I just turned my calendar to March and am longing to spring forward to a new crop of vegetables. I am dreaming in shades of spring green. Asparagus soup jumped out at me when taking a nostalgic tour of my Lee Bailey cookbooks on my sofa the other day. It was an article in the March issue of “Saveur” by Julia Turshen that had me pull out all my Lee Bailey cookbooks. Lee Bailey was my cookbook hero in the 1980’s and 90’s. His cookbook photographs of food were in real settings: the beach, a garden, a vineyard or at home. The food was simple but enchantingly beautiful in the naturalness of the settings. And it was those real life meal settings that made me want to cook so I too, could create this setting and mood. I now realize what a huge influence he had on me. In the spirit of Lee Bailey and the charms of staging an inviting meal setting, I make his asparagus soup and toast to his great influence on how I see food. My toasting wine is a 2014 Frogtown 770. Frogtown is a local winery in Northern Georgia and the 770 is a blend of 50% Petit Manseng, 35% Sauvignon Gris, and 15% Chardonnay.
Back to my spring fever, warming weather, and shades of spring green or in this case asparagus, leeks, onion, celery and potato for my soup. Asparagus soup, the perfect soup to welcome spring. Cheers!
- 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus + asparagus tips for garnish
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 cup leeks white and light green part, well washed and sliced
- 1/2 cup celery chopped
- 1 small baking potato peeled and cubed
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- salt and pepper
Snap off the bottom third of each asparagus spear and put the bottom portion of the spear in a large saucepan. Add the chicken broth to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer, tightly covered for 30 minutes. Discard the stalks and set broth aside.
Cut the upper asparagus spear tips into about 1 inch pieces.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter and then add asparagus spear tip pieces, onion, leeks, celery, and potato. Cover tightly and over low heat cook the vegetables for about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
In batches puree the vegetables with some of the asparagus infused chicken broth. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with asparagus spear tips.
The soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled.