Served hot or chilled, this soup is the flavor of Asparagus Season!
Asparagus season is fleeting here in the Northeast, but we celebrate it with great flair. There are even asparagus festivals to celebrate this vegetable with every possible cooking method! Raw, baked, roasted, boiled, braised, sautéed, steamed, stir-fried, and grilled, any way you cook it, the tender spears will delight. Just don’t overcook it or you’ll get slimy strings!
There will always be a few pots of asparagus soup in my house in the spring, and I try to change it up a little different each year. This time around, I added a spring parsnip for sweetness and a bulb of fennel, one of my favorite vegetables.
As with many of my soups, all the trimmings go into making a quick stock to both enhance the flavor of the soup elements, and cut down on kitchen waste.
Leek, Asparagus, and Fennel Soup
- 2 large leeks
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 bulb fennel
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 ½ lb. asparagus
- 2 ounces pea shoots
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 spring parsnip
Prep the vegetables: Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and scrub any dirt from them under running water. Cut the dark outside leaves from the leeks and place in a stock pot along with the skins of the garlic. Mince and reserve the white parts.
Peel the onion, chop it into small dice. Place all onion trimmings in the stock pot.
Trim the tough ends from the asparagus and place in the stock pot. Chop up the spears and set aside.
Peel the parsnip, dice it up, and put peelings in the stock pot.
Chop the ferns and stems from the fennel. Cut the bulb in quarters and remove the core. Place all trimmings in the stock pot. Dice the fennel and set aside.
Make the stock: Add six cups of water to the stock pot along with the pea shoots, bay leaf, and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain.
Assemble the soup: Heat the olive oil over medium high and add the leeks, onions, and fennel. Sauté until soft, then add the garlic for another 30 seconds. Add the diced asparagus and parsnip, and the vegetable stock, season.
Bring to a boil, then simmer just until the vegetables are tender. Remove a few ladles of the vegetables if you want more texture, then using a hand blender, traditional blender, food processor, or food mill, puree to desired consistency. Add the reserved vegetables back in and correct the seasoning.
Serve up as is, or you can add just a bit of cream or plant cream if you like, or a drizzle of lemon juice.
Hurry, asparagus season is almost over!
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