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May 3, 2011

Recipe for asparagus, potato and herb soup

Asparagus, potato and herb soup

From the New England Soup Factory Cookbook, you chose this recipe for asparagus, potato and herb soup, and what could be more timely as we're just coming into asparagus season here in Rhode Island. The secret ingredient, the one that made all of us curious, is fennel -- the bulb, not the seed -- and there's no doubt it adds brightness and complexity to the taste of the soup. The recipe calls for two cups of light cream, and together with the potatoes, that's a bit rich for me. You could substitute part milk (whole, lowfat or skim), or all milk. Or, omit altogether and add more stock or water, for a soup that's creamy without any dairy at all. The herbs and dry mustard provide plenty of flavor, and the pureed potatoes give it body. As with most asparagus soups, this tastes delicious hot or cold.

Asparagus, potato and herb soup

Adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook. Serves 8-10; can be halved.


2-1/2 lbs asparagus, washed and trimmed
3 Tbsp butter
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 Spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 bulb fennel, diced
6 medium Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (no need to peel them, really)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup white wine
8 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
6 sprigs fresh dill, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp dry mustard (I use Colman's)
2 cups light cream (or milk, or omit altogether and add more stock or water)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced, for garnish


Cut off the asparagus tips and set aside. Using a food processor fitted with the slicer blade, cut the asparagus stems into small slices. This will help break up the fibrous threads that could make the soup stringy. Don't try to use a knife -- it won't be effective for this job.

Melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery and fennel. Sauté for 7 minutes. Add the sliced asparagus and potatoes. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add the stock and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are soft and tender, 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Add the basil, dill, tarragon, mustard, cream (or milk), salt, and pepper. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or working in batches with a stand blender until smooth.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and add the tips to the soup. (If you're making the soup ahead to reheat, transfer the cooked asparagus tips to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking and set the color. Remove from the ice water, dry, and set aside until you are ready to serve.)

Garnish with a slice of hard-boiled egg, and a few of the fennel fronds.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Kalynskitchen | May 3, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Great photo with the egg slice and dill sprinkled over! It looks just delicious.

Posted by: CJ McD | May 3, 2011 at 07:05 PM

*2 thumbs up!*

Posted by: Maris (In Good Taste) | May 3, 2011 at 07:18 PM

I am fascinated by the egg. I kept trying to figure out if it was really an egg before I read the recipe! What a beautiful bowl of soup!

Posted by: Lydia | May 3, 2011 at 09:06 PM

Kalyn, thanks so much. For once, I managed a photo that really makes the soup look as good as it tastes!

CJ, you bet -- it's delicious.

Maris, yep, it's a real egg slice. And as unlikely as it seems, the egg really adds to the flavor and texture of the soup.

Posted by: Ideal Chef | May 4, 2011 at 07:00 AM

This picture and recipe makes me hungry! wow!

Posted by: Jim | June 13, 2011 at 02:18 AM

Nice recipe.

I just read an article on growing my own asparagus so now I know what to do with it :)

Posted by: Marilyn Zembo Day | July 31, 2011 at 09:10 AM

Does this soup freeze well?

Posted by: Lydia | July 31, 2011 at 09:12 AM

Marilyn, it absolutely does. Just leave out the garnishes until you reheat and serve.

Posted by: Marilyn Zembo Day | August 7, 2011 at 08:28 AM

Lydia, thanks. My WomanWords Retreat is coming up, and this year we partly be catered, partly bring our own food. We're going a little more "gourmet" than what is usually available (but not too far-fetched-- it IS a writing & creativity retreat- the writing & artmaking do take precedence). I think the asparagus soup sounds perfect. I intend to make it early this week and freeze it to take with me as my contribution. The fennel is not something I've cooked with much before so I'm anxious to see how it comes out! I'm thinking this can also be served cold, if it's a hot August night?

Posted by: Lydia | August 7, 2011 at 08:34 AM

Marilyn, you could definitely have this soup cold. Remember to omit the garnishes when you're freezing it, and have a wonderful retreat.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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