Asparagus and pea soup


400 g fresh green (young) asparagus spears
250 ml water
30 ml butter
10 ml sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
400 g frozen peas, defrosted
500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
salt and milled black pepper to taste
250 ml thick cream


Cut off asparagus tips and set aside. Chop stalks coarsely. Bring water to boil and steam stalks for 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside. Using same water, cook tips until tender (2 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness). Reserve water for soup. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and sauté until glossy but not browned. Add potato and toss to coat with butter mixture. Add reserved cooking liquor and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until potato is tender. Add peas, asparagus stalks and a quarter of the tips. Add stock (use 2 cubes) and bring to boil, then reduce temperature and simmer for 10 minutes. Purée soup until smooth, then return to saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, reheat (but don’t allow to boil). and stir in cream and remaining asparagus tips. Serve in heated bowls, with crusty bread.

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