This hearty main-course dish celebrates spring
It’s spring in our part of the world. But the weather service has issued a freeze warning. That’s April for you.
That’s also why we still crave hearty soups for dinner. Like this Asparagus and White Bean soup, which is quick and easy to prepare. It’s a wonderful weeknight way to celebrate fresh, local asparagus.
Because April. And asparagus.
Recipe: Asparagus and White Bean Soup
We usually serve this soup as a main course (just add some bread and a salad if it isn’t enough for your table). But you could serve smaller quantities as a starter.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. Cooking time adds another 20 minutes or so.
This recipe yields 4 main-course servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Or you can freeze them for up to two months.
- ~1 pound asparagus
- 2 tablespoons butter (may substitute olive oil)
- ½ cup shallots, finely minced (or to taste; may substitute onion)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 2 14-ounce cans of white beans (we like to use cannellini, but any white bean works)
- 3 to 4 cups chicken stock (to taste; we start with 3, then add more if necessary)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (to taste; see Notes)
- ½ cup heavy cream (very optional)
- ~2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional but tasty)
- 1 additional tablespoon butter (optional)
- reserved asparagus tips for garnish (optional)
- lemon slices for garnish (optional)
- Cut off the tough butt ends of the asparagus spears (about 2 inches). Rinse the asparagus. If you want to use some of the tip ends of the asparagus as garnish: Cut off about 2 inches and cook the tips separately. Place the asparagus tips in a small covered dish that’s microwave safe. Add a tablespoon of water, then zap the asparagus tips in the microwave for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Then immediately plunge the asparagus tips into a bowl of ice water for a minute. Remove the tips and drain them until ready to use.
- Chop the remaining asparagus spears into pieces of ½ inch or a bit less. Set aside.
- Place a cooking pot (use one that holds about 4 quarts) on medium stovetop heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter. When it’s melted, add the shallots. Season with salt to taste, then sauté the shallots for about 2 minutes (if using onion, sauté for about 5 minutes). Add the chopped asparagus spears (from Step 2) and sauté for another 5 minutes (add more salt to taste if necessary).
- Open the cans of white beans and pour them into a strainer that you’ve set over the sink. Rinse off the gunk the beans are stored in, then drain them. When you’ve finished sautéing the asparagus and shallots, add the white beans to the cooking pot, along with the chicken stock and dried thyme. Stir to combine, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (until the asparagus is as tender as you like). If you want the soup to have a smooth consistency, zap it with an immersion blender (we usually blend for 10 seconds or less – just enough to merge the ingredients, while still retaining a somewhat chunky texture).
- Add the cream, if using. Stir to combine. Then stir in the lemon juice, if using. Add the additional tablespoon of butter, if using, and allow it to melt into the soup.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Add the cooked asparagus tips (from Step 1) for garnish, if desired. Add a lemon slice to each bowl for additional garnish, if desired. Serve and enjoy.
- We used fairly thin asparagus spears when we made this soup (because they were the best-looking ones in our market). Thicker spears work just as well, though they may require a bit longer cooking time.
- Don’t want to blanch the asparagus tips in the microwave? You can instead boil or steam them until tender, then shock them in ice water.
- We used dried thyme for this dish, but fresh thyme works well too.
- Fresh tarragon would make a great substitute for thyme (we don’t recommend using dried tarragon). You could also substitute chopped parsley. Or any herb you like, really.
- Instead of chicken stock, you could substitute vegetable stock. Or even water.
- Cream isn’t necessary in this dish, but it adds a nice hit of flavor. If you reduce the amount of chicken stock by half a cup or so and increase the amount of cream, you can turn this recipe into Cream of Asparagus and White Bean Soup.
- Lemon juice brightens the flavor of this dish. But it’s optional – the soup will taste fine without it.
- Butter adds richness and gloss to the soup. But again, it’s optional.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Yum, asparagus,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “And soup is so perfect for the cold weather we’re having.”
“Yeah, we wore shorts yesterday,” I said. “Now we’re waiting for frozen precip. It’s weather whiplash.”
“Mother Nature changes her mind at will,” said Mrs K R. “You may need to mow grass in the snow.”
“Nature is pretty indecisive,” I said. “If she were a vegetable, we’d call her uhh-sparagus.”
“Where did that comment come from?” said Mrs K R. “The cold must be addling your brain.”
Well, who said making weather jokes was a breeze?
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Lovely. Loverly, if i might. Great soup - I really like white beans in just about anything! Where I live cannellini beans are twice as expensive as great northern, so I stick with gn’s. Same with black beans - turtle beans cost twice as much! Silly marketing.
Hi Mimi, Great Northerns are excellent in this soup. Although there's a difference in flavor, it's very slight. Main difference is in size -- cannellini beans are often a bit bigger, at least the brand that I typically buy. Thanks for the comment.
What a lovely, springtime list of ingredients, John! Who doesn't love asparagus this time of year. But I also love white beans, and the lemon just puts it over the top for me.
Hi Jeff, we love that hit of acid that lemon juice gives dishes like this! Really brightens the flavor -- kinda like adding salt, but with cleaner flavor. Thanks for the comment.
It look delicious, John! Asparagus is so good this time of year and with the beans, that would be a main course for me also. Yep, that's the Midwest---shorts one day, parka the next. Snow flurries a while ago and windy and chilly again today. Good recipe, thanks! Take care
Hi Pam, we do get to experience a lot of different weather, don't we? :-) Thanks for the comment.
This sounds absolutely delicious, John—all the flavors play so well together. And I love the mix of puréeing and leaving it somewhat chunky.
Hi Terry, we do like texture in our soups, so a little chunky is perfect for us. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a delicious soup! Love the idea of adding asparagus to soup. It's my favorite veggie!
The soup looks so springy and delicious, John. The lemon slice garnish is so simple yet so elegant.
Hi Laura, we've been eating loads of asparagus lately. SO good at this time of the year! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, we love the way lemon slices look! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Well, just yum! This looks and sounds delicious!
Hi Anne, yum indeed! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Weather! You should have seen our poor azalea this morning -- bowed down under wet and heavy snow. And the temperature was well-below freezing. I'm sure the magnolia blossoms will turn dark and blighted too.
be safe... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, we didn't get that much snow, thank goodness, but we got enough. Alas. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Nowadays, you can find asparagus all year round, but to me early spring is the best time to enjoy it (Look forward to our local asparagus). Beautiful flavour combinations in this soup - fresh, hearty, but pretty light!
Hi Ben, we sometimes buy asparagus out of season, simply because we're craving it. Flavor is never as good, though, as the local stuff we buy. So we try to eat our fill at this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've made two soups in the last week! It is freezing here in Colorado! Now I will add this one to the list! Thanks, John!
Hi Abbe, not as cold here as there, but cold enough. :-( Thanks for the comment.
The combination of the asparagus and white beans sounds interesting and delicious. I am a soup lover and can't wait to try it.
Hi Judee, it's a good combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hmph ! Frustrating to read about the joys of spring and asparagus at the markets when the first Antarctic blasts are making the heaters come on here ! Like the sound of this tho' most of the asparagus on the market is of the thick fleshy variety. Shall definitely try and with most of the optionals tho' am wondering whether yogurt instead of cream added at the end would wreck the flavour palate . . .
Hi Eha, haven't tried this with yogurt, but I think it'd taste quite good. Not sure if I'd use the lemon juice, but I might -- be a fun experiment. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I very seldom consider making a soup with asparagus because the temps have started warming up, but not this year. It turned old again this week and this soup is a very nice celebration of a sool spring.
That looks so good. We are eating a lot of asparagus these days and this looks perfect
Hi MJ, we don't often use asparagus in soup for the same reason. But this year we've had a very cool spring, so we've been enjoying more soup than usual at this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the ocmment.
Hi Pat and Dahn, we're loving the great asparagus we've been getting this year! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am the biggest fan of soup and always looking for a new one to try!
Such an awesome soup and the idea to cook the tips separately for a pretty varnish (varnish, I don't know where that came from) garnish is creative. I would just throw them on the top at the end, which is why you care more. Plus it shows, this is a seriously delicious soup.
No kidding about weather whiplash! We had about 5 inces of snow yesterday but fortunately it all melted. Beautiful soup, I just baked a gorgeous sourdough that would pair with this beautifully.
I love using asparagus in soups, and white beans and your soup looks so elegant and delicious, and much lighter than winter soups. We often have soup in the cooler months as our main meal as well.
This would definitely be enough for our table! What a nice and healthy combination (just ignore that butter!). Lovely recipe, John!
Hi Ashley, this is a good one. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Merryn, the asparagus tips do make a nice varnish. Garnish. Whatever. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eva, yeah, whiplash is exactly the word. We'll be wearing shorts again this weekend. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pauline, we actually have soup 12 months out of the year, although much more often during cooler months. This is a nice shoulder season soup -- heavy enough without being too heavy. Thanks for the comment.
Hi David, yeah, we ignore both the butter and the cream. If we don't talk about it, it's invisible, right? :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks delicious. Perfect for the weather right now.
Hi Gerlinde, it is rather, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love asparagus soup and white bean soup so I'm sure I would love this one too.
Hi Pam, we love the combo of asparagus and white beans! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi, R, :-) Thanks for the comment.
We're having our own version of warm one day and cool the next. That's how we know it's spring. Well, that and this soup. GREG
Hi Greg, always an adventure, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love the idea of adding some white beans to an asparagus soup! Sounds and looks delicious!
Perfect for this cold, cloudy day here in TX.
Hi Amy, it's really a great combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, this will definitely warm you up! :-) Thanks for the comment.
a freeze warning? nope never had one of those:) just cyclones and storms and floods. i love asparagus, and i laughed about snapping off their butts. your soup sounds souperb:)
Hi Sherry, your weather can be a bit extreme, can't it? Although we get plenty of tornado, flood, thunderstorms, etc. :-) And yeah, this is souperb! Thanks
Zjadłabym, pysznie wygląda:)
Hi zufik, it IS delicious! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yes, in my home we like soups for main course and sometimes serve it with bread. Your soup looks really yummy and heartwarming. I should definitely try! Thank you for sharing!
Hi Balvinde, we love main course soup! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I just made your soup in my mountain cabin. I had to improvise a bit. I only had one can of beans, so I added a potato and some Hot Dogs . It’s suppose to snow tomorrow which makes it a perfect meal. Thanks John.
Hi Gerlinde, potato would be excellent in this! :-) Enjoy. And thanks for the comment.
I love a soup that reminds me of spring and winter. The asparagus has been wonderful lately.
Hi Laura,asparagus at this time of the year is excellent. :-) thanks for the comment.
I love soups with white beans, very yum!
Hi Natalia, we're big fans of bean soups too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a nice springtime addition to bean soup! Especially since the weather has ben vacillating from spring to summer to winter and back to spring!
Hi Liz, very strange weather -- going to be really warm this coming week! Thanks for the comment.
I can't get enough of asparagus when spring hits. I most love it just grilled with good olive oil. But this soup recipe reminds me there are so many other delicious ways to enjoy these delectable spears.
Hi Carolyn, grilled asparagus is good -- we like it prepared that way a lot. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a perfect soup for spring season. I love the combination of asparagus and white beans. It looks so comforting and delicious. Nice!
Hi Holly, isn't this nice? Terrific flavor! :-) Thanks for the comment.,
What a perfect Spring soup! It does't take a freeze warning for me, I can eat soup year round!
Hi Lea Ann, we actually do eat soup every month of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
We eat lots of beans, especially cannellini beans, but you have given me a combination I've not thought of with the asparagus.
Hi Karen, asparagus and white beans (any type!) just work so well together. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such an elegant soup! And perfect for the season.
Hi Amalia, isn't it nice? Really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This soup is perfect for our weather here now in NZ
Hi Raymund, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Mother Nature has been off her rocker lately. This delicious asparagus and bean soup brings spring in style with a warming and cozy soup. Love the addition of lemon to brighten up the dish.
Hi Bobbi, we use lemon a lot to finish a dish. Great way to "season" it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love soups year round, and this one is perfect for spring -- seems like it's hearty and light at the same time. And the flavor combination/texture is lovely! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Valentina, this is hearty yet light! We love soup each and every month of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love this! I've been wanting some new soup recipes and this is perfect for spring!
Hi Inger, cold and rainy here today -- soup weather! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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