Healthy asparagus soup recipe – and how to make vegetable stock at home
The secret to this soup is the home made stock, but there is also an added twist you may not expect
Generally I make soup out of anything, and always in this way, but I always use a home made stock.
I keep chicken stock in the freezer because I make big batches, but I make vegetable stock as I go as it is so quick to make.
Honestly if you do one thing to improve your cooking, I would say get into stock making. Stock cubes or tubs, no matter how fancy, taste synthetic and take away from the flavour of real food.
I know I'm an obsessive from scratch cook – for instance both the bread and butter I served with this are home made – you don't have to go this far but stock making really is a game changing habit to adopt.
How to make vegetable stock
To make vegetable stock, put a litre of water in a pan and add half an onion, a clove of garlic, a carrot, a stick of celery, some whole black peppercorns and a bay leaf. Simmer for twenty minutes.
Allow it to cool and then strain it, keeping the liquid to make this soup.
Home made veg stock
You can use any vegetables you have around to make this – these are just the everyday ones I tend to use.
What's the secret soupy ingredient?
So this is my secret ingredient – I keep parmesan rinds in a jar in the fridge and use them when I really want to make a soup taste rich and special.
For this soup, I chopped a couple of shallots, a stick of celery and used up all of the woody stems of some asparagus I had used to make a risotto for lunch.
I fried this in a deep pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and butter for a few minutes.
I then added a handful of red lentils to really thicken the stew without using flour. (I seldom use flour to thicken things as I think it flattens the flavour and vegetables work better)
Next, I poured in water to cover and threw in a couple of potatoes chopped into big chunks, along with the piece of parmesan rind.
Bring to the boil and allow to simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through. Top it up if it is becoming dry, but do not put too much in or the soup will be watery. You can always add more water when it is finished if it is too thick.
Finally blend the soup with a stick blender and add more liquid if it is too thick. Gently reheat the soup and serve, but do not boil as this impairs the flavour.
If you are not keen on the taste of cheese, you can discard the parmesan cheese before blending. This soup would also be lovely topped with finely grated parmesan cheese.