My Recipe Box

Asparagus Soup with Saffron Croutons

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Serves six to eight.

  • Make the menu:
    A Cure for Spring Fever
  • by Barbara Lynch from Fine Cooking
    Issue 92

I think this soup is best cool, but it’s also tasty warm. You can make it ahead and let the weather dictate which way to go.

For the croutons:
  • 3 to 4 slices of fine-grain white bread, such as Pepperidge Farm
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads
  • Kosher salt
For the soup:
  • 2 bunches asparagus (about 2 lb.)
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 2 tsp. thinly sliced chives
Make the croutons:

Cut the crust off the bread and discard. Cut the bread into tiny cubes (about 1/3 inch) to yield about 1-1/2 cups.

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-low heat. Crumble the saffron and gently cook for about 1 minute to infuse the oil with the saffron color. Watch your heat; saffron can burn quickly. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the croutons are golden and crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the croutons to a plate to cool.

Make the soup:

Trim the tough bottoms off the asparagus and cut the rest of the spears into 1-inch pieces.

Melt the butter in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, 2 cups of water, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. white pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the asparagus, lower to a simmer, and cook until the asparagus is tender (taste a piece to see) but still quite green, about 5 minutes.

Purée the soup in batches in a blender and pass it through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids, into a bowl (if you plan to serve it cold) or into a clean saucepan.

To serve, reheat the soup if serving it warm. Stir in the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if you like. Serve the soup in cups or small bowls, topped with the croutons and chives.

Make Ahead Tips

Once completely cooled, the croutons can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days. The soup will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): 32; Fat Calories (kcal): 280; Saturated Fat (g): 18; Protein (g): 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): 9; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 400; Cholesterol (mg): 95; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Very good but would like to try a recipe that doesn't use cream. I recently had an "asparagus-potato soup", prepared by a local New Haven chef and it was outstanding. It did not use a cream base.

Delicious! The pure asparagus flavor and creamy texture is lovely for a starter to a meal. I served small portions at a dinnner party, which was perfect, since it is so rich.

Terrific recipe. Simple and tasty. My edits - added garlic to the croutons for more flavor, pureed soup very well and did not strain, kept a few tips for garnish. Made this for a client dinner I catered. They loved it and asked for the recipe.

My husband and I are neither great fans of asparagus. While the first tatses of Spring asparagus are always welcome to me and memories of white asparagus as prepared by the LA's Jonathan Club linger lovingly in my memory, I rarely deliberately seek recipes for it for home preparation. This soup has created the exception! Served at a Tulip dressed Easter table it was both beautiful and inviting in appearance and delivered a taste satisfaction that will always be remembered.I can not wait to repeat the senses pleasing and delicious flavors my husband and I both loved in this soup!At last an asparagus enthusiast!!!

I've had asparagus soup three times in the past week -- the first time this soup and then two other soups, one at a restaurant and one from epicurious at a friend's house. The latter two used chicken broth, which this recipe does not call for. I think the lack of broth here helps preserve the purity of the asparagus flavor and also keeps down the salt. This is higher fat -- due to using cream rather than broth -- but boy, is it tasty both hot and cold. We also liked the croutons.

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