I've been trying to eliminate waste in my kitchen, and using every last bit of my vegetables has been my recent obsession. I started keeping a freezer bag full of vegetable scraps - ends of onions and carrot peels, odd pieces of vegetables that I would generally pitch - to use for flavoring stocks. So when I made roasted asparagus the other night I was left with a pile of woody ends that I decided to boil and purée into a soup. The result is astounding - loads of fresh asparagus flavor and a silky smooth texture. An entire soup was made from otherwise garbage-bound ends, onion and a few pantry staples. The ends from two bunches of asparagus will yield about 2 large or 4 small servings of soup.
Despite its meager beginning, this soup is quite elegant. Serve it as a starter for Easter dinner, along with lamb and your favorite asparagus tip dish. Save a few asparagus tips to use as a garnish - it's always nice to give a nod to the full ingredient in a puréed soup.
Asparagus End Soup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 8 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 bunches of asparagus, ends only
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ½ tsp. salt
- fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 steamed asparagus tips (optional)
- Melt butter in heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic after butter begins to foam. Sweat onions and garlic over medium-low heat until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes (keep heat low enough to prevent garlic from browning).
- Add asparagus ends and cook until soft. Add broth and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, add spinach and cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree until creamy, or puree in blender in small batches. Reheat soup over medium high heat until warm. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with asparagus tips, if using.
*Note: If the soup is still hot when transferring it to the blender, open the center of the lid of the blender slightly, while holding it over the hole as the mixture is pureeing. This will allow the steam to escape.