Asparagus and ham soup

By Michael Bonacini
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SERVES
4
 TO
6

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch, plus a 1/4 bunch of pencil asparagus (thin)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Splash of olive oil
  • 2 slices of good smoky bacon
  • 2 slices of thickly cut, good quality smoked ham
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup 35% cream
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a good size soup pot, over medium heat, gently sweat the onion, garlic and two whole slices of bacon, with a splash of olive oil. While that is gently cooking, cut the bottom inch off the asparagus stems and discard. Reserve eight asparagus stems for garnish. Cut the remaining stems into 2.5 centimeter-length pieces and add to the onions, garlic and bacon. Gently cook for three to four minutes, turning up the heat as needed. Season with a little salt and pepper, and add three cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for approximately 12-18 minutes, until the asparagus is fully cooked, soft and tender.
  2. In the meantime, the reserved eight stems of asparagus can be sliced on the bias in 2.5 centimeter lengths and quickly blanched by plunging them into boiling water for 30 seconds and the removing & chilling under cold water immediately. Add to a large bowl. Dice the cooked ham into small cubes, and add to the bowl of asparagus. Season with a little bit of oil and salt & pepper to taste. Place off to the side.
  3. From the pot of cooked asparagus, lift out and remove the bacon – its job is done. Carefully blend the remaining cooked asparagus mixture in a blender, a little at a time – no accidents, please! Each batch of blended asparagus should be smooth and lump-free. Pour the blended mixture into a clean pot, adding the batches as you go. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir in the 35% cream. If needed, you can add a little more chicken stock to adjust the consistency.

To Serve

  1. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls. Add one teaspoon of plain yogurt in the center and on top, add a sprinkling of the diced ham and asparagus mix. Serve hot.

Note: All soups are better when made the day before. There is some kind of cooking magic that happens, and that soup tastes so much richer and flavourful. You can create your own garnish! A few of my favourites would be: smoked salmon; a poached egg and asparagus, mint, peas & lemon. Let’s not forget this soup is also excellent when served chilled.

WATCH

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