A celebration of the English asparagus season
The sheer simplicity of this soup is its strength—no rich chicken stock or exotic garnishes required. It’s all about the pure, unadulterated taste of asparagus. If you can get hold of some, wild garlic adds a perfect, subtle hint of garlic and makes a great excuse for a walk in the woods. You could add peas (fresh or frozen) to the soup too and perhaps garnish with some crispy bits of bacon.
200g woody asparagus stumps
2 medium leeks
1 tbsp flour
300g tender asparagus
50ml double cream
10 young wild garlic leaves or a few finely chopped chives
Roughly chop the woody asparagus and simmer in 1 litre water for about half an hour. Strain off the stock and throw out the asparagus. Top up with a little water if your stock has reduced a lot—you require about 1 litre.
Meanwhile, chop the remaining asparagus roughly, perhaps keeping a few tips aside for a garnish (just blanch these for 2 mins in boiling water).
Prepare the leeks, discarding the outer layer and tough green tops. Chop finely and rinse to remove any grit. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks with a pinch of salt and cook over a low heat until soft but not coloured.
Once the leeks are soft, stir in the flour and cook for 2 mins before slowly adding the asparagus stock, stirring all the time.
Add the chopped asparagus and cook for about 5 mins, or until just tender (it will depend a little on the thickness). Blend the soup, add the cream and balance with salt and pepper.
Slice the garlic leaves as finely as possible and garnish the soup before serving. Add the asparagus tips too if using.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler
Image: Kim Lightbody