Creamy Asparagus Soup

Adapted slightly from America's Test Kitchen

Serves about 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs asparagus, trimmed of woody stem bottoms
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • Leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp dry vermouth or white wine
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 slice country ham (optional)

1 Cut tips from the asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Chop the remaining asparagus stalks into 1/4-inch rounds.

2 Melt the butter in a 4 to 5 quart pot on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus (not the spear tips) to the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 5 minutes.

3 Add the broth, water, and thyme to the pot. Increase the heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until the asparagus are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. At the end of cooking, stir in the chopped parsley and spinach.

4 While the soup is cooking, blanche the asparagus tips in a small pot of boiling, salted water (about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt per quart of water), until the tips are just tender, about 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus. Drain. Rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

4b. If using, brown the country ham in a skillet. Slice into thin matchsticks and set aside.

5 Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. (If you use an upright blender, work in small batches, fill no more than a third the blender bowl at a time, and hold down the lid while blending.) For a creamy texture, if you want, press the puréed soup through a sieve or food mill. Stir in the cream. Stir in the vermouth and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with asparagus tips and country ham.

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