This Creamy White Asparagus & Potato Soup is springtime in a bowl!
Springtime equals white asparagus time, especially in Germany. White asparagus with new potatoes, ham and hollandaise (homemade of course!) or browned butter are one of the highlights of the culinary year and I’m always so happy when I see the first bunches cropping up at the markets! The season is so short that I cram as much asparagus as I can into the few short weeks I can lay my hands on it.
I saw white asparagus so rarely in New Jersey, how is where you live?
If you’ve never had it, the taste is similar to that of green asparagus, except more delicate, with a lovely interplay of slight sweet and bitter.
Sometimes, one of those precious bunches languishes in the fridge for a tad too long, I’m ashamed to say. When the asparagus is not quite fresh anymore, that’s when I make my Creamy White Asparagus & Potato Soup.
This soup is luscious! Sometimes white asparagus soup is made with just the asparagus, which may be a tad more elegant (perfect as a starter for a dinner party!) but most of the time I prefer this heartier version, with the potato lending a bit more heft.
Of course, the crispy asparagus tips, crunchy pancetta and a subtle splash of dry sherry definitely do their part to elevate this to a main course. Serve with crusty baguette and a glass of crisp Riesling for a perfect meal!
9 oz (250 g) potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into cubes
2 lb (1 kg) fresh white asparagus
3 1/2 tbsp (50 g) butter
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt, divided, more to taste
8 slices bacon or pancetta
3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp dry sherry
freshly ground pepper
handful fresh basil leaves as garnish
Peel the asparagus and cut off about half an inch (1 cm) off the end. Wash the peels. Place them into a pot with the butter, sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Fill up with a 4 cups and 3 tbsp (1 liter) of cold water. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Let simmer for 15 minutes. When the time is up, drain the asparagus broth into another pot with a sieve. Discard the peels.
Cut the asparagus into rounds, reserving half the tips.
Add the cut asparagus and the cooked potato cubes to the broth.
Bring to a simmer and let simmer covered for 15 minutes.
Place the pancetta or bacon slices into a large pan. Cook on medium heat for about five minutes on each side until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crispy. Remove from the pan and lay on paper towels to drain.
Keep the rendered pancetta fat in the pan.
Cut the asparagus tips you retained in half lengthwise and place in the pan with the pancetta fat. Cook on medium heat until lightly browned and crispy, about three to four minutes minutes. Turn over halfway. Remove and place on the paper towels to drain excess fat.
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Add the heavy cream, remaining salt, lemon juice, sherry and some freshly ground pepper. Simmer for another five minutes.
Slice the basil leaves into thin strips.
Separate the soup into four bowls. Garnish each bowl with two slices of pancetta, some crispy asparagus tips and a sprinkling of basil.