When asparagus is in season you simply must make this soup. The rather exotic, bitter-tasting asparagus pairs amazingly well with the fresh, clean flavor of cilantro.
What to buy: Look for tamari, a Japanese version of soy sauce that is often wheat-free, in the Asian section of your supermarket. If you can’t find it, substitute low-sodium soy sauce.
Game plan: The soup and uncooked asparagus tips will keep for 2 days, covered separately and refrigerated.
- Yields: 6 to 8 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 6 cups vegetable stock or water
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, tips reserved and stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic, and sauté for 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the potato, basil, oregano, and cumin. Add the stock and bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the potato is almost tender. Add the asparagus stalks and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and the potato is very tender.
- Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot until smooth. Alternatively, working in batches, purée in a regular blender until smooth. Stir in the tamari, salt, and white pepper. Return the soup to a simmer, then stir in the cilantro.
- Meanwhile, cook the reserved asparagus tips in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute, or until crisp-tender. Drain, then cut the asparagus tips in half lengthwise.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with the asparagus tips and serve.
Beverage pairing: Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. When you hear asparagus, you can think New Zealand. The asparagus flavor is not directly in this wine, but there are hints of it, as well as other fresh green herbs. It’s all held together by a spry citrus brightness and firm acidity.