Depending where you live in the country, the end of February, beginning of March through late May are when we find the best local asparagus and this pungent allium in our gardens and market. This light soup, given body with potatoes, brings them together. The pale jade color and refreshing taste make it an appropriate beginning to any spring meal.
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
5 cups simmering vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1 medium shallot, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cut the potatoes into about 1-inch pieces (there should be about 2 1/2 cups) and bring them to a boil in 3 cups lightly salted water. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and set aside.
Wash and break the tough stems from the asparagus. Break or cut the tender stalks into 3 or 4 pieces and add the asparagus to the simmering stock. Reduce heat, cover, and cook the asparagus until just tender. If they are pencil thin, this should take 3 to 5 minutes, if they are thick stalks, they will take about 5 to 7 minutes.
Reserve about one-third of the cooked asparagus and puree the rest with the stock and potatoes in batches in the food processor or blender.
Soften the shallot in the butter over low heat. Return the pureed soup to the pan, add the shallot and butter, chives, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup just to a simmer over low heat and ladle into warm bowls. Garnish each bowl with a few chopped chives.
© Susan Belsinger