Ever since my student days I have hated wasting food, so I devised this asparagus recipe in order to use even the toughest part of the stalk. The result is a well-flavoured, smooth, creamy soup dotted with asparagus tips.
Cut the asparagus spears into three pieces: the heads, the centre tender green part and the tougher base of the stalk. Peel the onion and chop roughly. Put the base pieces of the asparagus into a saucepan with the chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. Pour the stock through a fine sieve into a jug and discard the asparagus stalks.
Now melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and add the chopped onion. Stir for a minute and then mix in the flour. Gradually add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, stirring, and then allow to bubble for 3-4 minutes before adding the centre pieces of asparagus.
Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus is completely soft but has not lost its bright green colour. Pour the mixture into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Then return it to the saucepan, stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Shortly before serving, bring the soup up to the boil, add the asparagus heads and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until they have softened but still have a slight bite. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.