Curried Asparagus Soup
Green asparagus tips add style and color to this mildy spicy soup, while a dollop of savory whipped cream or soy yogurt is the final sophisticated accent.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons mild or hot curry powder
6 ounces baking potato, peeled and diced or 6 ounces firm tofu
2 cups vegetable stock
or 2 cups chicken stock
3/4 pound asparagus
3/4 cup milk or 3/4 cup soy milk
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon leaves
1/3 cup heavy cream or 1/3 cup equal parts non-dairy cream and soy yogurt
1/4 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until wilted, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, cook for 2 minutes, then add the potatoes, if using, and the stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, break off the woody ends from the asparagus. Cut off about 1 inch of the tips and reserve. Slice the asparagus crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the saucepan along with 1 tablespoon of the tarragon leaves. Partially cover and simmer until the asparagus and potatoes, if using, are tender. Transfer to the jar of an electric blender, pour in the milk or soy milk, add the tofu, if using, and purée until the soup is completely smooth, then return it to pot, and season with salt.
Blanch the reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until tender. Heat the soup until hot. Add the asparagus tips to the soup and taste to adjust seasonings. Before serving, beat the heavy cream or non-dairy creamer and soy yogurt in a small bowl into soft peaks. Fold in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of tarragon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and the lemon zest. Serve each bowl with a generous spoonful of the flavored cream.