My husband and I just recently returned from a house-hunting trip to Boston in anticipation of our upcoming move in July. When we left Dallas, our fellow Texans were enjoying a typical Southern spring with temperatures in the 80’s and weekends spent lounging by the pool and grilling in the back yard. You can imagine our shock when we exited Logan International Airport and were polar-bear plunged into a misty 50° morning. It was glorious! Our little Seattle-bred hearts swelled with happiness at the sight of like-minded people wearing rain jackets and rubber boots, and not even bothering with umbrellas. We quickly zipped up our coats, hopped the Orange Line to Haymarket Square, and set about exploring our new city.
During our short trip back East, we visited tons of museums and historical landmarks, however, the majority of our “sightseeing” was spent exploring steaming mugs of clam chowder, overstuffed lobster rolls, and heaping bowls of pasta from the North End. It was just like the brisk days we grew up with in the Pacific Northwest, where locals enjoy comfort foods late into May, and the weather hasn’t yet turned the corner to spring. Although the drizzly climate on the Coasts couldn’t be more different than the staggering heat of the South, the one thing both regions share this time of year is an over abundance of fresh spring produce. Farmer’s markets nationwide are overflowing with beautiful fruits and vegetables like artichokes, leeks, peas, carrots, and asparagus! Everywhere I turn these days, I see bright green bunches of asparagus.
Since locally grown asparagus will only be in season for another few weeks, I’ve been snatching up boatloads of the stuff and preparing it every which way imaginable: seared with garlic butter and served over grilled fish, baked into savory cheese frittatas, and sautéed with thick cuts of bacon set under poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. One of my favorite dishes this time of year, though, is Truffled Cream of Asparagus Soup, which is decadent enough to keep Bostonians warm until June, yet light enough that Texans can enjoy it despite the heat. Whether you serve this soup pipping hot with a couple slices of Parmesan Toast, or chilled with a crisp glass of Chardonnay, it’s sure to satisfy your every spring craving.
Truffled Cream of Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Toast
- 2 shallots, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, divided
- 2 bunches of asparagus (about 1½ – 2 lbs total)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp truffle salt
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- Finely ground white pepper to taste
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- Truffle oil for finishing (about 2 tsp)
(*You can find the Parmesan Toast recipe at the end of this post.)
2) To a large soup pot, add reserved asparagus ends, both halves of the shallot and garlic clove, and 6 cups water; bring to a boil and then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. Place a fine mesh sieve over a large measuring cup or bowl and strain asparagus broth through the sieve, pressing on solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and reserve broth (you should have about 4-5 cups).
3) Mince remaining shallot and garlic clove. Return soup pot to stove and add 2 Tbsp butter; set over medium heat. Melt butter until it begins to foam but not yet brown. Add minced shallot and garlic and sauté until tender but not brown. Add diced potato and enough asparagus broth to cover vegetables; bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Add remaining broth and reserved asparagus pieces and continue simmering until asparagus becomes tender and turns bright green, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove 8-12 asparagus tips and set aside for garnish.
4) With an immersion hand blender or an upright blender, purée soup until smooth (working in batches if necessary). Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and strain purée through the sieve, pressing on solids to release as much liquid as possible. Return purée to pot and discard any solids left in the sieve.
5) Add remaining 2 Tbsp butter, heavy cream, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese to the soup; whisk to combine.Bring soup back to a simmer and continue to cook until it begins to thicken, about 5-8 minutes.
6) Season soup with truffle salt, Kosher salt, and white pepper, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed, keeping in mind that you’ll be finishing each bowl with a flavor-packed garnish.
Sidekicks: Serve soup with a couple slices of Parmesan Toast (recipe to follow), and a chilled bottle of Chardonnay or a dry Sauvignon Blanc.
- 8-12 slices of soft French bread, about ½-inch thick
- 4-6 Tbsp salted butter, softened
- 4-6 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1) Set a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Butter both sides of each slice of bread and top one side of the bread with 1-1½ tsp of grated Parmesan cheese, spreading cheese out so that it covers the entire surface of the bread. Lightly press on the cheese so that it sticks to the butter.
2) Once skillet is hot, add bread, butter side down (Parmesan side facing up), and grill until golden brown on the bottom (working in batches if necessary). Carefully flip the bread, trying not to lose any cheese from the top, and grill the second side until it’s golden brown and the Parmesan is crunchy.