Once upon a time I worked at an asparagus farm. It was short-lived. By short-lived, I mean, it was one day. I was a teenager. My friend and I thought this sounded like a good opportunity. It wasn’t. I do not remember much about the experience, except that we were promised so much pay per pound of asparagus harvested. I also remember it being really hot, the owners not being very nice (at all), and the overall pay disappointing. Like, really disappointing. I’m guessing these farmers had the ad out all season long, as they had a revolving door of wide-eyed, asparagus pulling, teenaged workers come and go.
I learned my lesson. . .I am not an asparagus farmer.
I do, however, love asparagus. I like it every way – roasted, sauteed, shaved and raw, and also, in soup form. Sundays have been soup Sundays around here, so I decide to go that route. Anyone can make a “cream of . . .” soup. In just a couple of easy steps, you can have yourself a cream of fill-in-the-blank-here soup. Basically, they are all the same. Start with fat, sweat aromatics, add veg of choice, maybe some herbs, perhaps deglaze, or not, add stock/water, cook until tender. Blend, strain (if needed), add cream, or creamy substitute (like coconut milk), heat through, adjust seasonings. Serve. Those are good enough, but adding some yummy toppings is where you can get creative.
For this asparagus soup, I chose to top it with gremolata. Gremolata is a simple topping combining lemon, parsley, and garlic. It tastes fresh, clean, and delicious – perfect for topping this soup. Also, the nutty crunch of the almonds adds texture and contrast. My family really enjoyed this soup, and I hope you do, too.
Spring Asparagus Soup with Toasted Almonds and Gremolata (Click title for printable recipe)
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, loosely packed, minced
2 lemons zested, about 1 Tablespoon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
Combine ingredients in small bowl, set aside.
2 Tablespoons ghee, or butter (or olive oil for vegan)
1 large shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
2 ½ pounds asparagus (about 3 bunches), cut into 1 inch pieces, tips from about 18 spears set aside
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian/vegan)
3 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Pepper, to taste
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
In a stockpot, heat ghee, or butter, over medium heat. Add shallot. Sweat, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus, except for reserved tops. Stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add stock and water. Turn heat to high. Cook until asparagus is very tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Blend in blender, in batches (leaving room at the top for expansion), or with immersion blender, until smooth. Add coconut milk and salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat water and a pinch of sea salt in a small saucepan to boiling. Cook asparagus tips for about 2 minutes, or until crisp tender. Reserve. Garnish each serving with about 1 ½ teaspoons gremolata, toasted almonds, and asparagus tops. Serves 6 appetizer servings, or 4 dinner servings.