Do you ever have one of those nights where you think that you are going to whip up something quickly and over an hour later with a kitchen that could qualify as as a federal disaster area, you wonder what the heck happened? That was my night.

My intentions were to use up a beautiful bunch of asparagus and incorporate some of my fresh herbs. I have been neglecting my herb garden a bit which I know is reaching its final days with the quickly cooling weather. After a bit of searching, I settled upon this recipe.

Once you read the recipe below, you may wonder why I encountered such difficulty since it seems relatively easy. I think that exhaustion from a long day and a blender with a loose lid (yikes…hot soup shower) were a few of the hurdles in making this recipe quickly and painlessly.

Despite my slight struggles in the kitchen, I will make this recipe again and again as it was perhaps the best asparagus soup I have eaten. The fresh basil cream was such a perfect combination and it looked so beautiful in the bowl!

Asparagus Soup with Basil Cream
from Gourmet Magazine, April 1995
3 pounds asparagus, ends and tips cut off and reserved separately
and stalks cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups water
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chicken broth

For basil cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan simmer reserved asparagus ends in water, covered, 15 minutes. Remove and discard asparagus ends with slotted spoon and bring water to a boil. This adds flavor to the water. Add reserved asparagus tips and cook, uncovered, over high heat until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus tips with slotted spoon to a colander, reserving cooking liquid, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain tips well.

In a 4-quart heavy saucepan cook onions in butter with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring until pale golden. Add asparagus stalk pieces, broth, and reserved cooking liquid and simmer, covered, 15 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are tender.

Basil cream
Make basil cream while soup simmers: In a small saucepan bring cream to a boil and stir in basil and salt. Cook mixture over high heat, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 5 to 10 seconds, and in a blender purée mixture. Return basil cream to small saucepan and keep warm.

Purée soup in cleaned blender in small batches and return to 4-quart saucepan, thinning with water if desired. Season soup with salt and pepper and heat over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Divide soup among 6 bowls and add asparagus tips, arranging them decoratively. Drizzle basil cream over each serving.


Makes about 7 cups.