A day of the year I anticipate most can’t be marked on a calendar or planned in advance. It’s the first moment in March when I walk into the store and see a big, beautiful display of well-priced, vibrant green asparagus. Praise the heavens and let there be hope that gentler days are ahead, my favorite spring veggie has returned! To help us prepare for the in-kitchen festivities, I’m sharing the recipe for a lusciously velvety, distinctly spring green Cream of Asparagus Soup.
Asparagus season is preciously short. Every year, I spend the last several weeks of winter impatiently awaiting its arrival. As soon as it’s here, I fill our menu with this easy asparagus tart, baked lemon chicken with asparagus, this asparagus vegan risotto, any of these asparagus recipes, and of course today’s easy asparagus soup.
Not only does this creamy asparagus soup celebrate one of the best, most precious vegetables of the season, it does so in a way that manages to be healthy and comforting at the same time, which suits my March mood.
On the one hand, I’m ready to shed winter’s heft and craving something lighter. On the other, it’s still chilly out, and I need comfort food to warm and protect me from winter’s lingering dregs.
This asparagus soup recipe dances the line and delivers on both. It’s exactly what I am craving this March, on into April, and for as long as I can get my happy paws on bountiful asparagus bundles.
How to Make the Best Cream of Asparagus Soup
As much as I love asparagus soup, I rarely order it out, as most restaurant versions make cream of asparagus soup with half and half or heavy whipping cream. Yes, it’s good (who are we kidding here?), but I find that most are all about the cream and leave the asparagus as a casual afterthought.
I wanted more from my Cream of Asparagus Soup, and you should too.
Yes, asparagus soup should be creamy, but it also must genuinely celebrate this special spring vegetable.
Since I planned to eat my asparagus soup for lunch during the week, I also wanted it to be healthy (and not send me into an afternoon food coma).
To achieve my creamy-but-healthy goal, I tried this Cream of Asparagus Soup a few different ways:
- Cream of Asparagus Soup with Milk: Meh. It was too thin and (forgive my lack of vocabulary creativity here) milky.
- Cream of Asparagus Soup, Vegan: I also tried coconut milk in an experimental vegan version, and while it wasn’t bad, the coconut flavor overpowered the asparagus more than I wanted.
- Cream of Asparagus Soup, Barefoot Contessa: Since Ina seems to know all the answers, I referenced her Spring Pea Soup in Foolproof (one of my all-time fave cookbooks) for inspiration. The leeks stayed, and I also couldn’t resist keeping the crispy ham on top. For this Cream of Asparagus Soup, I updated Ina’s Spanish ham to bacon, which is easier to find, but you can certainly keep the ham if you prefer.
- Cream of Asparagus Soup without Cream: Believe it or not, THIS WAS THE WINNER!
Healthy Asparagus Soup—Creamy without Cream!
Here are my secrets to the most decadent-tasting Cream of Asparagus Soup that’s surprisingly light on calories.
- Instead of heavy cream, I added Yukon gold potatoes, which have a rich, creamy texture and naturally buttery flavor. You can’t taste them; rather, the potatoes give the Cream of Asparagus soup the luxurious, velvety texture I was after, no heavy cream required. (I actually made the asparagus soup with chicken broth!)
- My other trick to making this a creamy soup without cream is Greek yogurt. I’ve been a devoted fan of adding Greek yogurt to my vegetable soups even since I first tried it in this Roasted Carrot Soup. It’s just as wonderful here too.
Asparagus Soup–A Recipe to Celebrate the Season
I first tuned into the idea of asparagus as the herald of spring back when I read this book. I didn’t grow up with the concept of seasonal eating (meaning eating what’s in season now because it a) tastes its best, b) is kinder to the environment as it doesn’t need to traverse as many miles, c) is a great way to support local growers, and d) stretches your dollar), and the book introduced me to the concept. It’s become one I hold dear.
In the book, the author inherits and moves to a farm with her family in the fall. They plant a wide variety of crops, including asparagus, survive the cold, edgy winter, then stare out at winter impatiently and nervously, wondering when their crops will grow. I think of that book every spring, because one of the earliest chapters is called “Waiting for Asparagus.” When the asparagus arrives, that means spring is here and more life is soon to follow.
Dare to be hopeful. Asparagus (and thus spring!) will be here soon. When they arrive, we’ll be ready with this most lovely recipe for easy and healthy Cream of Asparagus Soup.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
- 3 slices thick cut bacon — optional
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped leeks — white and light green parts; or swap yellow onion or shallot
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes — peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 10 ounces)
- 2 cloves garlic — minced
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth — or chicken broth
- 2 pounds asparagus — trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt — plus additional for serving (do not use fat free or it may curdle and the soup will not be as creamy)
If serving with bacon: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare according to this guide for Baked Bacon. Crumble or dice and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar medium/large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and potatoes cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, asparagus, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. (You can also carefully transfer it to a blender or food processor in batches and blend it that way. Be careful as hot soup tends to splatter!) Return the blended soup to the pot and let cool a few minutes. Stir in the Greek yogurt, then season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Remember that if you are adding the bacon on top, it will also be salty, so be careful not to overdo it.
Serve hot, topped with crumbled bacon, a sprinkle of fresh chives, and an extra dollop of Greek yogurt as desired.
- To make vegetarian, omit the bacon or try swapping it for the roasted chickpea “croutons” in my recipe for Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad. To make vegan: omit the Greek yogurt or swap for a non-dairy yogurt. Omit bacon.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 m months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently on the stove top or in the microwave.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 4), without bacon) — Calories: 171, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 260mg, Carbohydrates: 32g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 8g, Protein: 10g
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