Yield: 10 servings (you won't regret making a lot, the leftovers will be delicious!)
- 2 bunches asparagus (about 2 lbs.)
- 1 large bunch spring onions, or leeks if spring onions aren’t available
- 2 stems green garlic, or 2 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 3 cups strong chicken broth (home-made stock or canned)
- salt & pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- splash of dry white wine
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- fresh chives for garnish, chopped, or an onion flower if you can get one
Wash vegetables thoroughly. Snap off tough bottom ends of asparagus and smash them with the side of a knife or mallet to break apart, and place in a large pot. Trim dark-green tops from spring onions and add to the pot. Trim dark green tops from green garlic and add to the pot. (note: if using leeks, discard the toughest, outer leaves; if using regular garlic, there will be no tops). Add four cups of water and the thyme sprig and bring up to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Strain liquid and set aside, discarding solids.
Cut asparagus tips from each stalk, at a nice angle making pieces 2 inches long, to garnish the soup (skip this step if you just want a puree with no floating asparagus tips). Set aside. Coarsely chop remaining asparagus spears. Roughly chop the spring onions and garlic. Put the spring onions, garlic and butter in a heavy four-quart pot with a tight lid. Cover and cook over medium-low flame for about five minutes. Remove lid and stir. Continue to cook uncovered until onion just begins to color. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, chicken broth, reserved liquid and a generous grind of black pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower flame so liquid just simmers gently. Cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon salt to the boiling water, and then add the asparagus tips. Cook for 1/2 minute, drain and set aside to cool.
Purée the soup in a blender in batches, and return to pot. Bring back to a simmer. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary (you may not need any if using canned broth), pepper and the cayenne. Stir in the wine, and as much of the cream as you need (you may prefer the soup less creamy).
Serve the soup garnished with the asparagus tips and chopped fresh chives, or if you happen to have an onion in flower, pick it and use the flavorful little onion flower parts for garnish instead.
Note: this makes a wonderful chilled soup as well.