Monday, April 30, 2012

Roasted asparagus and white bean soup

This soup screams Spring. Asparagus. Leeks. New potatoes. When I first saw this recipe in the Food Matters cookbook, I knew I wanted to make it. Simple and subtle, perfect on a chilly Spring night. The white beans and potatoes make it creamy, the white wine departs a dry note, and the asparagus lightens it up, adding the perfect green hue.

I made this recipe twice. The first time I used two large potatoes and it threw off the balance, so I made the soup again with smaller red potatoes. The second time around I blended the roasted asparagus straight into the soup—like Bittman suggests as an alternative (see below)—and I preferred its velvety texture. This soup is subtle, and tastes better the second day with a flavorful garnish like shaved Parmesan, pesto, or smoked paprika.
Since I'm hosting this week's Food Matters Project recipe, the recipe below is Bittman's word-by-word from the cookbook. I've mentioned my changes above. Check out to see what the other members made hereServe the soup with a side of tahini greens, a raw kale salad or this baguette.

Roasted asparagus and white bean soup
Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 leeks, well-rinsed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
salt and pepper
1/2 c dry white wine
2 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 c cooked or canned white beans, drained, liquid reserved
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, bean cooking liquid, or water, plus more as needed
about 1.5 lb of asparagus, peeled if thick
One 2-oz piece Parmesan cheese
Makes 4 servings

1. Heat oven to 450. Put 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened a bit and beginning to color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the white wine, and stir to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

2. Add the potatoes, about half the beans, and the stock. Bring to a boil, the lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily. Cover partially and cook, stirring infrequently, until the potatoes are disintegrating, 20 to 30 minutes; add more liquid as necessary so the mixture remains soupy. 

3. Meanwhile (or ahead of time), put the asparagus in a shallow roasting pan, drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning the spears once or twice, just until the thick part of the stalks can be pierced with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool a bit. Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to shave slices from the piece of cheese. 

4. When the soup is ready, mash the potatoes and beans a bit. Chop the asparagus and add it to the pot along with the remaining beans to warm through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve each bowl with some shaved cheese on top.

Pureed Asparagus and White Bean Soup: After you add the chopped roasted asparagus in Step 4, carefully puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender or with an immersion blender; or simply mash with a potato masher. If you prefer, puree only the beans and broth and add the chopped asparagus before serving.


Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn said...

White beans and asparagus are a perfect match. I am always looking for new ideas for using white beans and potatoes, since I nearly always seem to have both hanging around my kitchen. This one seems like a winner!

keelymarie said...

I tried both ways as well. Completely different and both really good. Thanks for picking a great recipe!

Evi said...

Great pick! This was delicious and very tasty, a great recipe that comes together fairly quickly and easily.

m_b said...

i have to make this! i was thinking that the blended version would have been more up my alley too - creamy and springy! beautiful photos and great recipe choice!

Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

Thanks for making a great pick! I'll definitely be making this every year when asparagus is at its peak.

Unknown said...

This recipe reminds me of vichyssoise... Really makes me wish I did it the way Bittman instructed but I didn't have all the ingredients it called for. :( Next time... Your soup looks super delicious! It is indeed a perfect spring night soup!

Prez said...

I can't wait to try this! I am out of town this week and unable to participate. I have never pureed asparagus, but this looks DEVINE. Great choice!

la domestique said...

I do love a velvety soup like this during spring. It's such a simple luxury.

Elizabeth (Greens & Seeds) said...

How have I not heard of this Food Matters Project before this?! Time to get cookin'!

Anonymous said...

I love your photos of the asparagus, especially that top one of the beautiful spears. I bet this soup is awesome chilled :)

Cookie and Kate said...

Such a great pick, Adrienne! I'm certain I would have loved the soup, but it's just too hot for soup around here. Sounds like everyone loved it!

Unknown said...

I really looked forward to this soup and was a bit disappointed that is was too hot for me to enjoy a soup.

Mike said...

You make a lot of amazing soups. You inspire me to have more soaps during the day and to try more blends of vegetables. Thank you for encouraging me to improve my diet.

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