Asparagus Soup: What to do with Asparagus Ends

what-to-do-with-asparagus-ends

Every time I cook with asparagus, I fret over those woody ends that I’ve always been taught are good for nothing but the compost pile.  While I can add them to my freezer bag of vegetable scraps to make stock, I felt like there had to be something more I could do with them to let the bright taste of asparagus still be featured.  That’s how I came up with this asparagus soup recipe using leftover asparagus ends.I’ve been struggling to write this post because my mind is consumed with the events of last weekend.  But as I thought of these typically discarded asparagus ends, a metaphor came to my mind.

asparagus-ends

Above is a photo of just half the asparagus ends I had after making roast asparagus for Easter brunch.  Typically they’re viewed as a wretched byproduct, worthless for anything but a garbage heap.  But I knew there had to be more to them than that.  They had to be good for something, not just hidden or covered up, they needed someone to see their potential.  Someone had to recognize that these tough unpalatable asparagus ends could become something beautiful if they would just put some work into it.

I started by nibbling at them, tasting them to make sure they still had good asparagus flavor.  They were tough, the texture was awful, way to much work to eat as is, but the flavor was good.

I decided to boil them in water, harsh treatment, perhaps painful, but necessary to get past their tough exterior.  An hour in scalding, rolling, bubbling liquid and the ends were mush.  They fell apart, gave up their resistance.  Still, the mush was unpleasant, it had stringy threads of asparagus fiber.  It had to be strained, the inedible bits needed to be removed.

Once passed through a strainer, the inedible pulp discarded into the compost heap, a beautiful light and fresh broth was left behind.  The asparagus flavor was strong, but it was now a clean palette, ready to accept new flavors and textures.

onions-and-potatoes

I started another pot, this time with a little coconut oil, some cloves of garlic and sliced potatoes and onions.  They sizzled away, turning golden brown, gathering flavor.  I added these to the asparagus broth and turned on the heat again.  They simmered together, everything softening, until I blended it to create a perfect mix.

The asparagus once again had texture, body, heart.  I added lemon juice, salt, and pepper to enhance the flavor of the asparagus.  I added cream to make it rich and comforting.

Soon it was a beautiful, creamy, flavorful soup.  The essence of the asparagus still remained, shined through the other flavors and textures.  No longer the discarded rejects, these asparagus ends became a thing of beauty.

healthy-soup-recipe

I have the same hope for the discarded, rejected youth of our town.  Adults see these tough, hardened kids and teenagers as hopeless.  They casually say remarks like “Things will never change”, or “It’s not like there’s anything else for them”.  If the adults don’t believe in the potential of young people, how can the youth ever be expected to believe in themselves?

Eric and I led a teen recovery program for two years.  We’ve also counseled hundreds of young people over the past eight years.  Sometimes it’s really good kids from great families who are struggling with stress, insecurity, or hurts they don’t feel safe talking to their parents about.  Sometimes it’s homeless teens who come from a history of abuse, addiction and mental illness.  No matter what the circumstances, we’ve noticed that a kid or teen who has a safe adult to talk to and believe in them tends to be able to start making wiser decisions.

It’s a lot of work.  It takes some heat and stress to help someone get to the root of their issues.  Whether that root be a fear of abandonment caused by a parent who’s never around, or a distrust of people because of past hurts, it’s painful to try and recognize it.  But once they accept that pain, they can start to heal.  They can start adding healthy coping skills and meaningful relationships to their lives.  They can gain hope for a healthy successful future.

Sure, it’s easier to view these youth as outcasts, remnants of normal society.  But if enough people recognize their potential, let their hearts be broken enough by the damage done to these kids to try and make a difference in their lives, perhaps we can see their true beauty that’s so hidden by years of neglect.

There are a lot of life lessons to be learned in the kitchen.  Have you learned any lately?

asparagus-soup-recipe

 

Creamy Asparagus Ends Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 25-60
    asparagus ends
  • 1 TBS
    coconut oil
  • 1
    yellow onion, chopped
  • 2
    medium red potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2
    lemon
  • 1/4 cup
    cream
  • to taste
    salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup
    grated parmesan (optional)
  • 2 oz
    prosciutto, sliced and fried (optional)
  • 12-18
    roasted asparagus spears (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. Place the asparagus ends in a large pot and fill with water to cover one inch above the asparagus. Bring to a boil and simmer 30-40 minutes until asparagus is very mushy.
  2. Blend the asparagus and liquid it boiled in using an immersion blender (In a regular blender, blend in small batches as hot liquids expand). Strain the pulp out, reserving the liquid.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in the large pot and add the onion and potatoes. Heat on high, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until there are some good char marks on the vegetables.
  4. Add the reserved asparagus stock and simmer on medium low for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are very soft. Blend well.
  5. Add juice of the 1/2 lemon, cream and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. (Optional: garnish the bowls of soup with grated parmesan, fried prosciutto, roasted asparagus spears and/or zest of the 1/2 lemon)

Approximate cost/serving: Really I don’t think of the cost of the asparagus ends as a part of this recipe since it’s something that would be thrown away.  With the other necessary ingredients it was just $1.80!  The optional garnishes will of course increase that cost but on its own the soup is just 30-45 cents per serving (yield depending on how many ends you had).

Vegetarian/Gluten Free: The soup is gluten free and without the prosciutto it’s meat free.  You can omit the cream to make it vegan and add an additional potato to thicken it up if you’d like.


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29 thoughts on “Asparagus Soup: What to do with Asparagus Ends”

  • Mmmm. When you mentioned the woody ends awhile ago I was curious to see what would come up with. I should have guessed soup. How smart! It’s been quite a long time since I’ve made an asparagus soup. For some reason it was one of the first dishes I made when I started cooking. Maybe it’s time to bring it back into the rotation.

  • What a great idea! Not to mention, I can’t believe I had never thought about having a freezer bag to keep vegetable scraps for making stock. I have always wanted to make stock but never have enough scraps at a given time. That is such a great way to collect them! Thank you!

  • I have been looking and looking for an asparagus soup recipe. I am so excited to try this one. It looks great. Your pictures are beautiful and love the great instructions. Thanks !

    • You definitely can though you’ll want to turn the heat down a little. I like using coconut oil because it can stand much higher heat without smoking.

  • I wonder about running the ends through a juicer rather than boiling them for an hour. Hmmm. Might have to try that. Thanks for the post! I was hoping to find something to do with the ends.

    • That’s a great idea Carolyn! I just got a juicer a few months ago so may have to try that with the ends I have in my freezer right now.

  • I just tried this soup and it is WONDERFUL! Used leftover Easter ham instead of prosciutto and the family ate every last drop. I even made a double batch thinking I’d get two meals out of it. I was wrong… Thanks so much!

  • I have been into soups lately and just knew my asparagus ends I saved would make a good one! Thanks for the directions and recipe, can’t wait to try this evening.

    I also loved your metaphor, a great message that rings true.

    Be well!

  • Wow – I have always felt guilty about how much of the ends is getting thrown away. I googled “what do I do with asparagus ends” and found your site! Great recipe. I used my kitchenaid food mill to puree the ends and broth, then threw in a whole lemon (that I’d used the zest from already). I didn’t use any cream, added a couple extra potatoes, and then roasted some garlic and threw in some shredded pizza cheese. WOW! Will be making that again and again!

  • The first asparagus is coming out in the area of France that I am in, but the ends of the spear are very
    woody. What a good idea it was to google – what to do with the ends – voila I found your receipe.
    Ends are boiling as I write – I know it will taste excellent. thanks a great idea x

  • Thanks for your recipe I had some ends left so I googled using leftover ends of asparagus your site came up. Thank you also for your story, I have a heart to help youth, work with at risk young people and have heard the same remarks. A little bit of time spent speaking encouragement can change anyones life, good reminder. 😉

  • Thank you so very much, Diana. For years, I have been throwing ends away, and it just killed me. I will never do it again. And, your idea to keep them in your freezer until you have enough is just an inspired idea. My ends from Easter (which are still in very good shape) are boiling right now. Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday ~she will be 92. Guess what we are having for a first course? (smile) Thank you!

  • Thanks Diana. Great idea, great soup. I’m vegan so I left out the cream. Next time I will leave out the lemon too. Thanks again!

    • Yeah the lemon would probably be pretty strong without the fat of the cream. Actually, I wonder how it would taste with coconut cream? I may have to give that a try with my next batch of ends!

  • Work with youth can be so challenging, but just as rewarding. My husband and I are preparing to be foster parents this fall, and so the part about not giving up on tough youth really spoke to me. Thanks for adding a personal touch to this recipe!

  • I have a bag of Asparagus ends in the freezer. If it’s going to take 40 min of boiling to make the ends soft, I think I’ll try pressure cooking instead. Anyone pressure cooked their Asparagus ends to solve the woody stringy problem?

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