Creamy Asparagus Soup
I think the best cookbook title ever is “Happy in the Kitchen.” The book is by a very interesting chef named “Michel Richard,” who made the amazing leap from being an acclaimed pastry chef to acclaimed savory chef. This is comparable to Michael Jordan joining the PGA tour. Michel’s happiness in the kitchen infects the recipes in his book: they are playful, imaginative and spirited.
Happy in the Kitchen contains a simple recipe for a white asparagus soup- well, kind of simple. Most folks don’t have access to white asparagus, which is expensive even if you do have access to it. We also don’t have access to quality fresh corn at the same time of year as asparagus. Finally, his recipe only made a small amount of soup. So I turned Michel’s idea into something a little less glam and a bit more homey.
Most pureed soups have the flavor complexity and textural appeal of homemade baby food. The interplay of the corn and asparagus gives this one a sophistication that is special. It is even more compelling when made with miso broth. Though intimidating sounding, miso broth is absurdly easy to make and takes no time. Whole Foods carries all the ingredients you need for it.
1 large onion, chopped
2 pounds asparagus, washed, woody ends trimmed and roughly chopped into 2” lengths
1 pound frozen corn kernels
8 cups chicken stock or miso broth
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Food Mill or Sieve
Cook the asparagus
- Place a large pot over medium-low heat. Add oil to coat the pan bottom and sweat the onions for 5 minutes. Be sure to salt the onions. You’re just trying to begin the cooking process- breaking down sugars and softening the onions. You are not trying to brown them.
- Add the stock, asparagus and corn. There should be just enough liquid to cover the ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until asparagus are very tender.
Puree the soup
- Method 1: Blend the soup in batches in a blender. You are looking for a texture that is quite fine, so each batch may take as much as 1 minute to be fully pureed. Be careful not to fill the blender more than half full. Also, put a dishtowel over the blender top, draping over the sides and hold the lid down when you begin to blend. The steam from the hot soup can put pressure on the lid and force it off, splattering you with scalding soup.
- Method 2: Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. I have a very an industrial-strength immersion blender. A cheap immersion blender may not be up to the job, but you can always give it a “whirl.” It’ll take 3-5 full minutes to completely puree the soup.
Finish the soup
- Pass the soup through a food mill using the finest disc. The objective is to remove the corn hulls and fibrous pieces of asparagus, while pushing through the stuff that’ll give the soup body. When the liquids have gone through, scrape the solids that have passed through the disc from the underside. Alternatively, you could use a fine mesh sieve but the process would be pretty laborious.
- Return the soup to the pot, re-warm as necessary, add the heavy cream, taste for seasoning and serve.
You could reserve some thinly sliced and cooked pieces of asparagus to add to the pureed soup for serving.
Add some spice to make it interesting. A little shake of the Japanese seasoning called shichimi togarashi would be great.