White and Green Asparagus Soup

Asparagus season finally has started in Germany. When I visited my parents for Easter, I could spot little booths where people sold the freshly cut stalks all over the place. My parents are lucky to live in an area where they are surrounded by asparagus fields. Over here asparagus is considered a special but simple vegetable and therefore it is served as part of a simple meal: asparagus, new potatoes, (optional) bacon. This may sound boring, but this meal can get a pretty serious business when people start fighting about the asparagus toppings. There are only two: butter or sauce hollandaise. Most people don’t like both. They have a clear favourite and try to find out whether you are one of them by asking you what kind of topping you want. You might think that as a vegan you are on the safe side if you say “none”. But you are not. Choosing no topping apparently is worse than choosing the wrong topping. People will look at you in the weirdest way possible.

Personally I never cared that much about the toppings. My favourite part of asparagus season is something completely else.  Unlike green asparagus the white variety has to be peeled. Those peels are precious and most people don’t throw them away. You can use them as a base to make asparagus stock which again is used as a base for a creamy asparagus soup. And if you ask me, asparagus soup and not asparagus with or without butter or Hollandaise is the best part of enjoying asparagus. Asparagus soup is very simple and easy to make. The soup has a light and creamy texture and is very filling. Traditionally it is made with cream. I found the best substitute to be a mixture of soy yoghurt and cashews, but you could also experiment with soy creamer.

Creamy White Asparagus Soup

(serves 3-4)

[adapted from this recipe]

500 g ( 1 lb 1.6 oz) white asparagus
1 litre (4 cups) water

120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
100 g (3.5 oz) roasted and salted cashews
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons asparagus broth

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable broth powder
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the asparagus. If this is your first time using white asparagus, here are some good tips on how to choose, store, and peel it. Trim the ends and wrap the peeled stalks in a damp kitchen towel. Pour the water into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Add the peels and the ends you cut off. Cover and let boil over medium heat for at least 30 minutes. Drain the peels and reserve the liquid. Discard the peels.

In a food processor combine yoghurt, cashews, lemon juice, olive oil, and three tablespoons of the asparagus broth you just made. Process until creamy.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Carefully add one tablespoon of flour, stirring constantly. (Use a whisk for this.) Repeat with the remaining flour. Stir constantly to avoid lumps. Cook for one minute and make sure the mixture doesn’t brown. Now carefully add 1/4 cup of broth. The mixture will thicken and probably some lumps will form, but just keep stirring and add another 1/4 cup of broth. When adding more broth, the lumps should dissolve. Carefully and slowly add the remaining broth.

Cut the asparagus stalks into small pieces (about an inch) and add to the soup. Also add the vegetable broth powder. Cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat. With a ladle, remove some of the asparagus chunks (you want 4-5 stalks for every serving of soup) and set aside. Purée the soup. Stir in yoghurt cashew cream and add reserved asparagus chunks. Serve immediately.

If you don’t have access to white asparagus, you can use green asparagus for the soup. Here in Germany, local green asparagus is almost non-existent. You can buy green asparagus at every grocery store, but it’s usually from Spain. I have to admit, I like both the flavour and texture of green asparagus a little bit better than that of the white variety. We usually have it in stir-fries or with some grilled polenta. Since we were on a real asparagus kick this weekend, we bought both varieties and cooked up a pot of green asparagus soup, too. This soup is not as rich as the white asparagus soup and it has a completely different flavour. We added a bunch of ramps and some basil. Ramps usually lose much of their garlic flavour during cooking, but if the taste is too strong for you, you can mix it with some white asparagus soup or use less ramps and more basil.

Green Asparagus Soup with Ramps and Basil

1 tablespoon olive oil
500 g green asparagus

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable broth
85 g (3 oz.) ramps
25 g (1/2 cup packed) basil
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the asparagus and cut it into small pieces (about 1 inch). Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Over medium heat, fry the asparagus for about five minutes. Stir from time to time. Remove the asparagus and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pot and heat. Make a roux by adding the flour slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon. Make sure to whisk constantly. Stir until no lumps are left. Slowly add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth. The mixture will thicken and get lumpy. Slowly add another 1/4 cup of broth while stirring. Whisk until no lumps are left and slowly add remaining broth.

Add asparagus and cook covered over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and purée. Stir in ramps and basil and purée again. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

14 thoughts on “White and Green Asparagus Soup

  1. Ah, spargle season is easily my favorite time to be in Germany- Wish I was there now! It’s one of the very few vegetables that my dad enjoys too, so he’s certainly in luck… I’ll have to send him your recipe, it looks fantastic (and so beautiful with that swirl of white and green!)

  2. No, it seems to be only a taste preference. My father for example loves sauce Hollandaise and my mother hates it.

  3. The asparagus topping debate sounds really interesting — are there any reasons someone may prefer one over the other? I wonder if it could be a regional thing, or a class thing, and your preferred topping says something about who you are.

    The soups look good, though.

  4. Beautiful asparagus soup! I can’t wait to try this recipe out.
    We mostly have green asparagus out here. Simple is best for asparagus I do agree. We throw it on the bbq with a bit of olive oil and salt and cook al dente! Or lightly roasted in the oven lightly coated with olive oil, sea salt and fresh garlic.

  5. those are drop dead gorgeous, C! I have the best asparagus memories from my childhood, and I love seeing a different way to use them here.

  6. The green asparagus soups looks fabulous. I have to admit I’ve never made asparagus into soup — I’m just to eager to cook it lightly and eat it quickly, usually covered with mushrooms or cracked pepper. Your soup sounds so good I may have to change my ways.

  7. I had to laugh at your description of the way asparagus is served in Germany. At a grill party on Easter Monday I prepped a bunch of white asparagus for the grill. I never saw so many shocked faces when I brought the plate out! I swear there were people who wanted to go home, but stayed to try the weird American’s food. Sometimes Germans crack me up. Even so, it was a hit. I also have to add my name to the list of people who has never made aspargus soup. I usually put my asparagus peelings in the compost! (Seems such a waste…) I will have to give this a try, de-glutenized and soyless of course. :-)

    1. Ha, ha, ha! How brave of you! I can totally imagine their faces! I would have loved to try your asparagus.

  8. Two delightful soups! I have never made asparagus soup, which is a situation I need to correct. I love the simplicity of both recipes, I imagine both really allow the asparagus to shine!

    I have only tried white asparagus once, and it was terrible. I didn’t know it had to be peeled! Excited to try it again, and make some stock from the peels!

  9. you are too awesome, Mihl – dazzling us all with two lovely asparagus soup recipes! would you believe i’ve never had a soup of asparagus before? should i find some ramps i would love to try your green asparagus soup – and i know i can find white asparagus, so your creamy white asparagus soup will be happening soon. mmmmmmm!

  10. Oh wow, two asparagus recipes. I’ve just started seeing local green asparagus popping up here so I’ll be trying that soup recipe soon.

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