Wondering what to do with asparagus? This simple Asparagus White Bean Soup is a great way to put any stray spears to good use. If you have more or less asparagus on hand than the recipe calls for, no problem — it’s easily adaptable. And if even if your asparagus isn’t in season locally, but imported, this recipe is still a good way to ensure none goes to waste.
I’m eager to buy local asparagus as soon as it comes into season. While my favourite way of enjoying it is roasted, sometimes I find there’s more in a bundle than I can eat in a day or two. That’s when a recipe for asparagus soup comes in handy.
Asparagus White Bean Soup
For some time now I’ve been thinking about a simple soup with two main ingredients: asparagus for its green goodness, and tender white beans to add creaminess and protein to the pot. And, voila, that’s exactly what I created today: asparagus white bean soup. Although I love many different herbs and spices, this soup — quite remarkably for me — contains no seasoning other than black pepper. But that doesn’t mean it’s not flavourful.
When I roast asparagus, I often use garlic and lemon, so I brought those flavours into the soup pot. Then there’s the unique flavour of the asparagus itself, which is quite assertive. My last flavour trick is to use a good quality vegetable bouillon cube, and make it a little stronger than the package calls for. The ones that I buy make a really delicious broth, providing a good vegetal base for the soup.
One more thing … consider the quantities in the recipe that follows mere suggestions. They’re based on the amount of asparagus I had on hand and the rather small jar of cannellini beans in the cupboard. I could easily have used more or even less asparagus and a larger quantity of beans, and stretched the broth out with some extra water. I even could have used another bouillon cube if the batch size called for it.
After all, cooking with seasonal, local ingredients calls for some flexibility and inventiveness. But mostly? Simple recipes like this one that allow the star ingredients to shine.
Let’s Get Cooking
Asparagus White Bean Soup
© Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage Life 2018
This soup is simple to make and highly adaptable. Use the recipe as a starting point and adjust it to suit the quantity of asparagus you have on hand. I sliced the asparagus quite thin (a little under 1/2 cm [1/4 inch]) to speed along the cooking time (hey, I was hungry!), but you can adapt that to suit your preference, too – just simmer the soup until the asparagus is tender. This is what going with the flow in the kitchen is all about!
TIP: By the way, are you wondering how to trim asparagus? If you hold a stalk at both ends and gently bend the bottom, it should snap at the point where the woody part ends. You can snap the whole bunch that way, or use the first one as a guide to slice the tough ends off the rest.
- 1 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- about 270 gr (10 ounces) trimmed asparagus, thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cup in total)
- 5 cups good quality, flavourful vegetable broth (I used bouillon cubes)
- about 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 360 ml jar cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (plus more if necessary)
- Optional: pinch or so of kosher or sea salt
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and stir well. After a couple of minutes add the minced garlic and stir more. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Stir in the sliced asparagus.
Add the vegetable broth, pepper and lemon zest and mix well. Put a lid on the pot, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as the soup boils, turn the heat to simmer. Stir in the cannellini beans and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings, including the lemon juice. My soup was very flavourful and didn’t need salt. A lot depends on the broth you’re using as well as how salted the beans are. If you judge that your soup needs salt, add it a pinch at a time, stirring and tasting until it’s just right.
As a final optional step, use an immersion blender to purée about a third of the soup to add more body to the broth. You can do this right in the pot or remove about 2 cups to a bowl and return it to the pot once puréed.
Looking for More Asparagus Ideas?
When asparagus is in season, we want all the asparagus all the time! But there’s a lot more you can do with it besides roasting it as a side dish or making soup (good as those ideas are). How about Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart for an elegant appetizer or luncheon main dish? Or, go rustic with Asparagus & Prosciutto Pizza. And finally, how about enjoying those green spears at breakfast in this Asparagus & Onion Frittata?