Asparagus Soup From the Veneto

One reason this Passover soup is so delicious is because there are no onions to mask the clean asparagus flavor. Use margarine or olive oil for a meat-based meal.

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Serves 6

4 ½ to 5 cups vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
3 ½ to 4 pounds asparagus
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup pistachio nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)

1) In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup of the broth to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the saffron, and let steep for 15 minutes.

2) Have ready an ice-water bath. Trim off the tough stem ends from the asparagus, then cut the spears into 2-inch pieces and reserve the tips. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil, add the tips, and boil for 3 minutes. Drain, then immerse them in the ice-water bath to refresh. Drain and set aside.

3) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the asparagus stalks and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the potato, saffron infusion, and 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil, Turn down the heat to low and simmer until the asparagus and potato are very soft, about 20 minutes.

4) Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In batches, transfer soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return the purée to the saucepan. Reheat to a gentle simmer and add the remaining ½ cup broth if needed to achieve the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper. The asparagus flavor intensifies if the soup is set aside for an hour or so before serving.

5) To serve, return the soup to medium heat, add the asparagus tips, and reheat until hot. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley and nuts.

Recipe reprinted from “The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old Recipes for the Modern Home” by Joyce Goldstein with permission from University of California Press.

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