I eat white asparagus at least once a week when it is in season. It’s a magnificent vegetable that can really stand up for itself. Its flavor is subtle with a buttery rich texture.
It’s important to not mask the asparagus flavor. That’s why mild creamy sauces like the Sauce Hollandaise or this creamy soup go perfect with white asparagus.
How to cook the asparagus
Cream of asparagus soup is often made from the leftovers of steamed asparagus with sauce hollandaise or maltaise. You can certainly do that with this recipe. However, I tend to not have any leftovers when eating asparagus so that this recipe is made from scratch with fresh asparagus.
To give it some more flavor I first saute the asparagus over high heat before adding water to the pot to gently cook it through until tender. It’s up to you to decide how tender you like your asparagus. I don’t like it if it is too raw and crunchy. I prefer the tender and buttery texture when it is completely cooked through.
All of your asparagus trimmings are used to cook a quick asparagus broth. Cream of asparagus soup is usually never made by pureeing but rather by thickening a light asparagus broth with a roux. Always keep in mind to slowly whisk your broth into your roux to prevent the soup from becoming lumpy.
How to enrich cream of asparagus soup
It’s inevitable that you let your soup gently simmer for at least 10-15 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. It is no joy to eat a soup that is creamy smooth but tastes like flour.
The final preparation step is to enrich your soup with heavy cream. If you’re feeling fancy you can also whisk one or two egg yolks into your heavy cream before adding it to the lightly simmering soup. Please don’t forget to temper the egg yolk and heavy cream mixture with some hot broth before adding it into the hot soup so that your egg yolks won’t curdle.
That way it will get even richer and the texture will be noticeably improved. However, the soup still tastes fine and reheats better without extra egg yolks so that I don’t list them in the recipe.
This recipe makes enough soup to serve as an appetizer for about 4 people. If you want to make it a main dish I recommend serving it with bread and maybe some salad on the side. A German meal is often a combination of different dishes where every diner can serve him or herself. Expect for soupy stews (‘Eintopf’) it’s very uncommon that one dish resembles a whole meal.
Cream of Asparagus Soup (‘Spargelcremesuppe’)
For the asparagus broth:
- asparagus peel and trimmings
- 3 spring onions, cut into 2.5-inch pieces
- 1-inch knob of ginger, thinly sliced
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 6 cups water
For cooking the asparagus:
- 1 pound (450 g) white asparagus, peeled and trimmed
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup water
For the cream soup:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups asparagus broth
- leftover braising liquid from cooking the asparagus
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- lemon juice, to taste
- freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
Prepare the asparagus broth:
- Take your asparagus peel and trimmings and add them into a large pot together with the spring onions, ginger, and thyme. Cover with 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Let the broth simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain your finished broth through a fine-mesh sieve.
Prepare your asparagus:
- While the broth is cooking, heat the clarified butter over high heat in a large saute pan and add the asparagus. Fry the asparagus for 2-3 minutes on each side until very lightly charred. Season to taste with salt and add 1/4 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, cover your pan, and put the heat on the lowest setting. Let the asparagus braise until tender, about 8 minutes. Take it off the heat and cut the asparagus stalks into 1-inch slices. Reserve the leftover braising liquid.
Prepare the soup:
- Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat and add the flour. Sweat the butter-flour mixture (‘roux’) for 3-4 minutes until it smells slightly nutty but is still pale in color. Add your white wine and whisk constantly to prevent the soup from turning lumpy. Add in your asparagus broth and leftover braising liquid from cooking the asparagus in small batches while whisking constantly. Bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 15 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream, sugar, and lemon juice. Season the soup to taste with nutmeg, black pepper, and salt.
Serve the soup:
- To serve, divide your cooked asparagus slices among four serving bowls and ladle over the hot soup.