Cream of Roasted Asparagus Soup: Serves 4

*2 Pounds Fresh Asparagus
*2TB Tasty Olive Company Gremolata Olive Oil
*2TB Butter
*1C half and half (for lighter version, you can use skim or 1% milk, or nothing)
*2TB Flour
*4C Chicken Stock (I use homemade when possible. Otherwise a brand that has low sodium/Fat Free) ** for vegetarians feel free to use Veggie Stock1 medium/large
*Onion – Chopped (approx 1/2-3/4C)
*Pinch of red pepper flake,
*Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. While oven is heating, rinse your asparagus and trim off the rough ends. Place asparagus on a sheet pan, season with 1 TB of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer and place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. The asparagus does not need to be full cooked in the oven because it will be added to the soup pot for a bit to finish cooking. While the asparagus is cooking you can get the rest of the soup going.

In a medium pot bring your chicken stock to a low boil / simmer. In a dutch oven or a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add 1TB of olive oil, 1TB of butter and a pinch of red pepper flake. When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook until they caramelize and get golden brown.

Reduce to medium heat. Push the onions to the sides of the pot so there is an open “hot spot” in the middle of the pot. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and once it has melted add the flour stir constantly to make a paste (aka roux), continue stirring so the flour doesn’t burn and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Add a few ladles of hot stock to the pot as you continuously whisk to make a paste. Continue adding stock as you whisk so that you make a smooth gravy like consistency. Add any remaining stock and stir, reduce the heat to medium-low.

Remove asparagus from oven and allow to cool so that you can handle it with your hands. Chop off the tips and reserve to use as a garnish or save for use in a frittata, omelet or veggie pasta.

Chop the remainder of the asparagus spears into 1″ segments and toss into the stock pot. Let it cook for a minute or two.

Now it’s time to puree! You can work right within the existing pot if you have an immersion or stick blender (be sure to have it on the highest setting to really whip and munch up the asparagus).

If not, pour soup into your regular blender. Be sure to blend in batches to get a smooth creamy consistency and to not burn yourself. Only fill the blender about 1/2 way each time.

Return all of the blended soup to the stock pot and let it simmer for and additional 15-30 minutes to allow flavors to merry. Turn off heat and add the half and half. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.

To serve, ladle into a bowl, finish with a swirl of the gremolata olive oil and sprinkle a couple of the roasted asparagus tips for garnish. You can also serve with toasted crusty bread or garlic croutons.