A fresh and easy asparagus soup in a base of chicken broth, cream, and onion, seasoned with thyme and dry vermouth.
- 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
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp dry vermouth
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
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.
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.
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.
Yield: Serves 4-6.