Cream of Asparagus Soup

Here’s a classic cream soup that is especially good with the first asparagus of spring.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds asparagus (about 2 bunches), thin to medium stalks are best
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and white pepper, to taste

METHOD:

Cut tips from 12 asparagus, about 1 1/2 inches from top. Set aside.

Cut remaining stalks and asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a heavy 4 quart pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add chopped onion. Cook onion over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add 5 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and place tips in icy cold water to cool. Drain. Set aside.

Using a blender, purée soup in batches until smooth, transferring to a bowl. Return puréed soup to pan. Whisk in cream and additional broth to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and white pepper. Bring soup to a almost to a boil, then whisk in remaining tablespoon butter. Add lemon juice. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips and serve.

YIELD: 4 servings