Inspired by a soup I had at Cafe Spiaggia, discussed here, I made this delightful asparagus soup for my family when they were in town for graduation. My family loved it and best of all, it only took about 30 minutes to make so I didn't have to spend too much time tucked away in the kitchen.
I served the scrumptious soup for lunch with a bright arugula salad and crusty bread. It was fantastic!
The soup is not creamy per se, but it certainly has a richer texture from the touch of cream and mascarpone. Lemon adds a brightness and acidity. Reserving a couple asparagus tips adds a nice textural contrast and also makes for a lovely presentation.
Asparagus soup with lemon, mascarpone, and parmigiano reggiano
2 1/2 lb asparagus, woody stems snapped off and cut into 1 1/2" pieces and leaving tips long
1 large leek
1 shallot, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
2 tbsp butter
3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp mascarpone
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Trim away the dark green part of the leeks. Slice lengthwise. Wash thoroughly in cold water. Be sure to open the leaves and wash all of the dirt away. Chop the white and pale green parts into 1/2 inch slices, about 1 1/4 cups. Set aside.
In a large pot, melt butter until foamy over medium heat. Add leek and shallot, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cut asparagus, stir. Add vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil.
After 2 minutes, remove 4 asparagus tips and plunge into an ice bath until cool. Drain, dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel, and set aside. Simmer remaining asparagus for 10-12 minutes, until asparagus is tender. Remove from heat. Let cool.
Process asparagus with cooking liquid in a blender until smooth. Strain if necessary.
Transfer liquid to the same large pot and heat on medium heat. Stir in heavy cream and mascarpone. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice, to taste.
Transfer to individual serving bowls. Using a vegetable peeler, shave parmigiano reggiano into thin slices. Halve reserved asparagus tips lengthwise. Garnish the soup with shaved parmigiano reggiano and asparagus tips. Finish with a quick grind of black pepper. Serve hot.
I had parmesan croutons on hand and added a few to the soup for a nice textural contrast.