Once Upon a Chef's Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan
For a while, I thought of naming my never-to-be-written memoir Asparagus Soup.
There was a specific bowl of asparagus soup that stuck in my memory so strongly and it aligned with such a specific point in life that it felt like a perfect title… as if to say, “look how all the moments, meals, bites, all add up to one life.”
It was years after that first bowl, which was ordered in a restaurant, that I decided to make it at home. The search lead me to Jenn Segal and her site Once Upon a Chef. I followed the recipe exactly and knew I found a keeper, both in Jenn and the recipe, from the first lick of the spoon.
The soup is fresh and bright, especially with the burst of lemon, and feels richer than it is. This soup is great if you’re watching your salt intake as well; simply decrease the amount of broth, up the lemon juice, and try adding a splash of good white wine vinegar right at the end.
Over the years, I’ve made small changes to the original recipe but I agree with her headnote: make this in early spring when asparagus first return to the market.
2 bunches asparagus, ~2 pounds: bottoms trimmed, remaining stalk cut into ~1” pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions: chopped
5 cloves garlic: smashed and peeled
6 cups chicken broth (current favorite Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Broth)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon: zest and 2 tablespoons of juice
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add the asparagus, chicken broth, and a large pinch of pepper to the pot. (If you are using low-sodium broth, add a teaspoon of Black Diamond Kosher Salt. Add half a teaspoon if using Morton’s. If using regular broth, adjust salt later.
Bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the asparagus are tender.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. (I turn off the burner for this.) Or, purée the soup in a standard blender, then return the soup to the pot. If using a standard blender, you may need to purée it in batches.
Return soup to a simmer.
Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If you’re happy with the consistency, taste and adjust salt and pepper, serve in warm bowls with swirl of olive oil, shower of parm, and/or croutons on top.
If you want a thicker soup, simmer further. Adjust seasoning after the desired consistency is reached to avoid over salting. Serve as above!
Zest the lemon first (unless you’re like me and forget and like zesting lemon halves while cursing yourself)!
Serve with thick croutons and a salad to make this a meal.
Jenn says you can freeze this without the cheese for up to three months, but I can hardly stop licking the spoon so there’s never been a drop left to free