Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan

Every year on 01 September, asparagus season starts in Australia. Back in Germany asparagus season is celebrated so much that many restaurants add the classic “white asparagus with boiled potatoes, ham and hollandaise sauce” to their menus or even offer a special asparagus menu. In Australia it seems it’s a less celebrated occasion. With asparagus being available all year around nowadays it’s a common item on many menus, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

A chef recently enlightened us that Australian asparagus only has a very short season as it gets too hot too quickly, so instead most of the time we import the green spears from countries like Peru and Chilli. Anyway, I love asparagus and with more and more days that feel like spring, this soup is perfect to celebrate the under-celebrated asparagus season.

Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan
4 bunches green asparagus (abt 800g)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium leeks, cleaned and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1.5l chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
freshly squeezed juice from one lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan
fresh herbs (optional)

Melt the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped leek and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.In the meantime, cut the tips off of the asparagus spears and set aside. Cut the remaining spears into 2-3cm pieces.

Add the chopped asparagus (except for the tips) to the pot, along with the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt and a few twists of the pepper mill. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes until tender but make sure they still have a bit of a bite to them. Drain and refresh under cold water or in an ice bath. Set aside.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Alternatively, transfer soup to a standard blender in batches and purée, then return the soup to the pot. If necessary, pass the soup through a fine sieve to remove the fibres (the best way is to place the sieve over a large bowl, then use a ladle to push the soup through in circular motions). Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the lemon juice and grated parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lemon juice if desired.
Ladle the soup into bowls, then top each bowl with asparagus tips, fresh chopped herbs (optional) and freshly ground black pepper if desired.
Serves 4.

Adapted from Jenn Segal’s Once Upon A Chef.

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