This is just a simple, dairy free asparagus soup, it’s a great way to use the woody ends of asparagus, which can be tricky business. Currently, I am facing a cooler filled with asparagus butts, with at least 30-60 additional pounds arriving each week. There has been asparagus puree, cold asparagus mousse for amuse bouche, asparagus broth to use as a finish for risotto, the list goes on, and on, and on.
The best method, hands down, was a trick to make a dairy free soup out of asparagus butts related to me by my good friend and chef de cuisine at the Bachelor Farmer, talented Chef Brett Weber. Brett made a soup using asparagus butts that included a special technique I had never thought of before: he buzzed the stems in a food processor before cooking them. I still remember the first time I tried to make asparagus soup out of the woody ends: it turned out horribly. Buzzing the stems before cooking helps to break them down and release their liquid, it’s a really great technique.
Making a soup vegan is no easy trick either, to add even further interest, this soup is also gluten free/celiac friendly, since it uses rice (or potato) to bind the emulsion and give a creamy, smooth effect without adding dairy.
This is just a basic, brothy soup, to make it more substantial, add some cooked rice, or sauteed vegetables like fiddlehead ferns, mushrooms, peas, asparagus tips, etc. Use your imagination and add whatever fun green things you have on hand.
Vegan Asparagus Soup, Ramp Oil And Wild Mint
- 1/2 cup fennel chopped
- 1/2 cup yellow sweet onion chopped
- 6 tbsp cooked white rice
- 2 cups woody asparagus ends chopped
- 1/4 cup flavorless oil like grapeseed
- 4 cups water
- 1 recipe ramp leaf oil follows
- Small leaves of fresh herbs like wild mint chives, and chive blossoms
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Shred the sliced asparagus ends in the food processor until they are broken up and no large pieces remain. Sweat the onion and the fennel in a bit of oil, a pinch of salt and a tablepoon of water. When the fennel and onion are cooked through and soft, add the asparagus and rice, then cook for a minute until the asparagus is a wilted. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes on low-medium.
- Working in two or three small batches, blend the soup, adding the flavorless oil to the blender as the mixture is pureed. (The oil "fluffs" the soup, allowing it to absorb more air and be extra creamy and light, it also helps the soup to puree finely.) Pass the soup through a fine strainer, you can press with a spoon to help the liquid pass through.
- Season the soup with salt to taste, then put in a container and chill in an ice bath.
- Heat the soup, whisking occasionally. Check the seasoning for salt and correct to your taste one last time if needed. Pour 1 cup into each of four heated soup bowls. Garnish with the ramp leaf oil and herbs, then serve immediately.
Ramp Leaf Oil
- Fine strainer or cheesecloth, blender
- 3 cups chopped ramp leaves
- 1 cup mild flavored oil like canola or grapeseed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine the leaves, oil and salt in a blender, then puree on high for 60 seconds. Pour the mixture into a metal bowl set above another bowl with ice cubes and a little water, and stir the oil to cool it down and preserve the color.
- Pour the oil into a container and refrigerate overnight. The next day, pour the oil into cheesecloth set over a container, and allow it to drain naturally for a few hours.
- Do not press or squeeze any of the solids into the oil, or you will get water and particles that will make a cloudy oil. Pour the oil into a squeeze bottle or similar container and refrigerate.
- Do not leave the oil at room temperature or it will lose it's flavor and deteriorate. The oil will keep in the fridge for a month.