This Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe is the perfect way to use up those leftover woody ends.
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When first given the task of creating some comfort-foodie asparagus dishes, I knew I wanted to figure out a way to make asparagus soup from only the leftover woody ends. Don’t you just hate throwing those ends away? It seems like with every bunch of asparagus used, you have to discard almost half. This is simply unacceptable. There are lots of recipes out there that have you make a stock from the discarded ends, but then the bulk of the soup comes from potatoes, leeks, and so forth. To my way of thinking, there had to be a better way of utilizing more of those ends while also highlighting the delightful asparagus flavor trapped within. This is what I came up with.
Yields 4 starter-sized servings or 2 main-course servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
Woody ends from about 60 similarly sized asparagus stalks (roughly 2 bunches), cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
6 cups good-quality chicken stock (homemade is best)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Place large saucepot over medium heat. Add oil, onion and pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Once onions begin to sizzle and steam, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to caramelize for about an hour, or until nice and golden brown. This is a fairly slow process, but the flavor that develops is unmatched and definitely worth it. Stir periodically throughout the hour to keep onions moist, adding additional oil and adjusting heat if necessary.
Once onions are ready, add asparagus ends and chicken stock to pot. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat back to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until woody ends are tender.
With immersion blender or food processor, purée mixture until as smooth as you can get it. Because no amount of heat can take away all the toughness of the asparagus ends, straining the purée through a sieve is necessary. This may take a bit of elbow grease, depending on the fineness of your sieve, but you should be able to push all that delicious liquid through with a rubber spatula, leaving behind only the stringy asparagus pulp. This is slow food at its finest.
Once purée is smooth, add cream, lemon juice and a bit of salt. Don’t be afraid to take your time with this; only you know what your taste buds like. Serve with a few lightly steamed asparagus tips, croutons, Parmesan cheese, or anything else you like.