Asparagus and Leek Soup

Spring is just around the corner, well at least in California. (In Minnesota maybe less so.) In any case, get ready to enjoy fresh asparagus, one of the many gifts of the season.

This soup is an opportunity to enjoy the first of the young spring asparagus. Choose medium-sized asparagus (neither pencil sized nor too large) and look for tips that are tight and free from flowering.

Although you can serve the soup “as is,” the cream garnish brings valuable dairy fats.

Asparagus, in addition to being a good source of fiber, has one of the most complete spectrums among vegetables both for amino acids and elements. Asparagine, a fairly common amino acid with a distinctive smell, is rarely found in such abundance as in the asparagus. It is a good thing to have because it is used by our body to make a variety of other amino acids.

For these reasons, asparagus should be a staple in our diet, not an exotic food.

Leeks, being sulphur donors, like all the members of the allium family, are good for the immune system, joints and cartilage. They have a very broad spectrum of essential amino acids (which is rare for vegetables), extremely low glycemic load and glycemic index, and some anti-inflammatory properties.

Efficiency, Completeness, Spectrum, Quality: all these words refer to the same notion: how many key nutrients are present in a given food? 

Protein – A “complete” or “efficient” protein source contains all 9 essential amino acids, in proportions suitable for our body: excess in any particular amino acid results in imbalance. Although our body can adjust within a certain range, it cannot deal with overwhelming imbalance. By eating a variety of proteins, we avoid stressing our body’s regulation capability. 

 Over-emphasizing “completeness” may lead to problems, though. Restricting your choice of proteins to the “efficient” ones narrows your options and impoverishes your diet.

Eating a large variety of proteins is a better way to take care of efficiency!

Fat – Fat quality is determined by the quality of its source: fat is not an isolated molecule, it comes within a whole matrix of other ingredients, and those must be healthy too. Healthy fats start with healthy animals and healthy plants.

Micronutrients and elements that have a physiological function in our body are too many to count. If you eat a restricted diet, you will forgo many healthy nutrients.

Serves 6

  • 2 medium leeks (white to light-green part only)
  • 2 lb medium-sized asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock

For the citrus cream (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • Zest and juice of one lemon

Soupe asperges poireaux - prep1

1. Clean the leeks and mince into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Soupe asperges poireaux - prep0

2. Trim the asparagus and cut diagonally into 1-inch long pieces, reserving the tips (1 inch).

Soupe asperges poireaux - prep4

3. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced leek and sauté, without browning, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Soupe asperges poireaux - prep6

4. Add the asparagus pieces and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat and simmer until the asparagus are cooked, about 10 minutes.

Soupe asperges poireaux - prep5

5. Meanwhile, mince the asparagus tips very thinly.

Soupe asperges poireaux - prep8

6. Purée the soup until smooth. Return to the pot, add the minced asparagus tips and warm over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes. Make sure the tips stay crunchy, though.

7.  Prepare a citrus cream by mixing the crème fraîche with the zest and juice of the lemon. Add the minced parsley.

Season soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Adjust consistency with additional broth if necessary. Serve in bowls with a dollop of citrus cream.

For a simpler everyday meal, you can skip the citrus cream. The soup is delicious “as is.”

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Author: Lien Nguyen

Liên is the author of several cookbooks that blend food with history, culture and health.

One thought on “Asparagus and Leek Soup”

  1. Hi Lien,
    The point about dairy fats is important. In my patients no matter how reassured they are, by me and others, that saturated fats are not harmful, even healthful, they have been so propagandized that they still cannot believe it is true. Remind them often: eat fat, eat fat, eat fat. Short chain fats are great for the brain and dairy fats are one of the best sources for them.
    Dr. Mike

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