Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

It seems like asparagus is everywhere nowadays - getting prime position in the grocery store and prime recipe spots in blogs and newspapers.  You know what else is everywhere - ramps.  Every blog I read is talking about ramps, but I barely know what a ramp is and have little desire to buy ramps when asparagus is calling my name.  We buy one or two bunches of asparagus every week at the farmers market and love having it simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  (We buy zero bunches of ramps.)

The roasting routine can get a little tired a month into asparagus season, so this year I decided to make asparagus soup.  I randomly picked up a recipe card at Whole Foods for the first time in my life, and low and behold, this recipe is a winner (with some tweaking).  It takes only slightly more effort than just roasting the asparagus and you get a whole meal out of it.  The potatoes provide a wonderful creaminess and body to a soup that is essentially made up of broth and vegetables.  Just a small amount of cream - a half cup - provides what I consider the necessary fat to make the soup really sing.  Don't skip the cream, folks, life is too short.

Make sure to add plenty of salt, freshly ground pepper, and Cayenne pepper to this soup to season it how you prefer.  I like my soups pretty spicy so I kept going back to my trusty Cayenne bottle.  Now is the perfect time to make this soup while asparagus is in season, but the cooler temperatures still invite a nice warm bowl of soup for dinner.  Check back here next year to see if I've finally figured out why I would bother with ramps, but in the meantime let's all just make this soup and be thankful spring provides a more accessible vegetable.

Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup
Adapted from Whole Foods

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 leek, white and light green portions sliced
2 large or 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus (~1 lb), ends snapped off and spears cut into 1 inch pieces
2 heads broccoli, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cream
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Chives, chopped, for garnish

Heat 1/2 cup broth in large pot over medium high heat until bubbling.  Reduce heat to medium and add chopped leek.  Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining broth and chopped potatoes and bring to a boil.  Stir in asparagus and broccoli and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes.  Puree using immersion blender or removing slightly cooled portions to a regular blender.  Stir in 1/2 cup cream and add lots of salt and pepper (including some Cayenne for kick) to taste.  Serve with chopped fresh chives.

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