It’s that time of the year when asparagus are finally in season. They’re insanely expensive in Portugal (I’ve noticed many are imported from Chile or Peru – never understood why) but, this time around, I was lucky to find them half their price at the local supermarket. I brought home three bunches. Two of them went into this soup, and the other one was thrown into a salad, grilled. So, as you might guess, there’s been a bit of an asparagus overdose over here, but a well worth one – the soup I’m sharing with you today totally surpassed my expectations.
I’ve first saw asparagus soup here, and then here, and that’s when I got convinced to try my own version. Before that, I’ve only ever had grilled and steamed asparagus with a little salt (simplicity is key, specially when dealing with pricy seasonal produce). I also thought about adding a nice topping, because blended soups can be a little monotonous without one – the ideia for the crispy white beans comes from here (coincidentally, Tara also used them on top of an asparagus soup). A couple of things you should consider when making this soup: first, do use the leeks’ green parts (they’re edible, nutritious and delicious) and second, by all means make the topping. The bean croutons, as I like to call them, bind everything together because of their salty and crispy qualities, making a nice contrast to the soup’s smoothness and delicate flavour.
Asparagus, Leek & Lime Soup + Crispy Chilli White Beans
Recipe visually inspired by Seven Spoons (the original link has been deactivated a while ago)
for the soup:
500 g / 3 large leeks, tougher ends removed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
640 g / 2 medium sized asparagus bunches
625 ml / 2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable stock
250 ml / 1 cup full fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon lime zest, plus more serving
juice of ½ lime
for the crispy chilli white beans:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 dried small chillies
1/4 teaspoon salt
330 g large white beans (canned is fine), rinsed and drained
To make the soup: Cut the ends of the leeks. Cut them lengthwise in half and then into thin half moons. Place the cut leeks in a colander and wash under running water to remove as much dirt as possible.
Pour the oil into a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, but not smoking, add the leeks and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they’re soft.
In the meantime, trim the ends of the asparagus. Chop the asparagus stalks into 2-3 cm pieces and add them to the pot with the leeks. Add the salt, stock and coconut milk, bring to a boil and, once boiling, decrease the heat to medium and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the lime zest and juice and, using a blender, puree the soup until smooth (you might have to do this in batches). Have a taste and adjust the seasoning, adding freshly ground black pepper and more salt if needed.
To make the crispy beans: Dry the beans with a clean towel to remove as much moisture as possible. In a mortar an pestle, combine the dried chillis with the salt and crush until you get a fine powder. Add the oil, beans and chilli seasoning to a large skillet over medium heat. Mix with a wooden spoon to coat the beans evenly, and cook for 15 minutes or until they’re crisp and golden brown.
Serve the soup in bowls with a few tablespoons of the crispy beans on top. Add a little extra lime juice and zest to the soup right before digging in, if desired.