Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Hopefully you wore at least a wee bit of green, and thus avoided getting pinched by traditional St Patty’s Day revelers. I caught myself short walking the children to school this morning when I realized I hadn’t made certain they were wearing green. By sheer, dumb luck, they both had a little (i.e., a tiny green anchor on a shirt and a little green swoosh on a pair of shoes) without having intentionally chosen any green clothing.
While I may have forgotten to dress my children in green, I had intended to post this recipe for asparagus soup first thing this morning. But as sometimes happens, life interferes with our plans. Yesterday turned out to be a random day off from school for teacher training, and I found myself at the San Francisco Zoo with three little ones in tow. There the day went.
While I’m not a particularly big fan of Saint Patrick’s Day, I do love the color green–in fact, it’s my favorite color. And I love that green represents living things, the Earth and Spring. So in honor of the color more than the day, I plan to post several green-colored dishes this week, along with a few random “green” photos.
This soup has a lovely green color and is a perfect way to celebrate spring! You can use olive oil in place of the butter and coconut milk in place of the cream to make this soup vegan. It’s delicious either way.
2 lbs fresh asparagus, rinsed
6 cups organic chicken stock
3 tbsp unsalted butter, ghee or olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup leeks, whites only, thinly sliced and well rinsed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream or coconut milk (not lite!)
Trim the top tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length and set aside. Cut off the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve, then cut the remaining stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
In a medium-size pot, bring the stock to boil. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes. This helps infuse the stock with additional asparagus flavor. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.
Add the asparagus tips to the stock and blanch until just tender and bright green, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and refresh in an ice water bath. Drain on paper towels and set them aside for the garnish. Reserve the stock.
In another medium-size pot, melt the butter, ghee or olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
With a hand-immersion blender or in food processor or blender, puree the soup until very smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Stir in the cream or coconut milk. Cook until the soup is warmed through, about 3 minutes.
Ladle the soup into bowls or cups and garnish with a few of the tips. Serve immediately.