I am reluctant to buy asparagus just to make into soup. It is too beautiful and expensive but hold onto those spear ends and you can turn them into this delicious creamy tasty soup. Perfect for early summer.
In a large saucepan heat up the oil and butter together until the butter foams. Add then the chopped onion and fry for 5 minutes on a low heat until it is softened but not coloured. Add then the chopped garlic. Discard the very end of the asparagus stalk (the bit that is dry and tough where it was harvested) then chop the rest of the stalks and the spears into small pieces (about 5mm lengths) then add these to the pan with the onions and garlic. Add the mint and star anise, salt and pepper, give a stir then pour in the stock.
Bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook, partially covered for about 15-20 minutes until the stalks are tender. Take from the heat and use a stick blender or liquidiser to blitz to a soup. Taste and adjust the seasoning, stir through the cream if using and serve hot with fresh bread.
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