ASPARAGUS AND NETTLE SOUP
4 generous portions
- 500g thin asparagus, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium leeks, white part plus 2cm of the green part chopped
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 300g tender nettle leaves, rinsed thoroughly and dried
- 2 to 3 litres vegetable or chicken stock
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- lemon juice, to taste
Slice the asparagus spears into 2cm pieces, reserving the tips
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, leeks and potatoes stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture begins to colour slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add 2 litres of stock and simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes after which time, add the asparagus stalks and the nettle leaves. Simmer the mixture a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and asparagus stalks are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Using a hand held blender or food processor puree the soup until smooth. Pass the mixture through a food mill or sieve into a clean saucepan. Make sure that you press the solids through with the back of a spoon, discarding the fibrous bits.
Return the soup to the stove. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. If the soup appears too thick, add more stock to thin out the mixture. If on the other hand, the soup is too thin, bring the heat up to high and reduce the soup to the desired consistency. Add sea salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Add asparagus tips and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
This soup can be made substituting watercress, rocket or spinach for the nettle leaves. It is also very nice to throw a handful of fresh mint leaves, flat leaf parsley or tarragon into the soup before pureeing. It is also great with a handful of crispy croutons, a grating of pecorino cheese or a swirl of cream added before serving.