Cream of Asparagus With Saffron

Cream of Asparagus With Saffron


4 and 1/2 to 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

1/3 cup shelled natural pistachios or pine nuts

3 and 1/2 lbs asparagus (about 3 large bunches)

1 large russet (baking) potato

1/4 cup margarine

1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves

Freshly ground black pepper


In a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup broth to a boil and remove pan from heat.

Stir saffron into hot broth and steep, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

In a dry heavy skillet toast nuts over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant.

Chop nuts.

Trim asparagus and cut into 2-inch pieces, reserving tips separately.

Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water.

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water blanch tips 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender, and transfer with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking.

Drain tips well and pat dry.

Peel potato and cut enough into 1/2-inch cubes to measure 1 and 1/2 cups.

In a 4-quart kettle cook asparagus stalks in margarine over moderate heat, stirring, 3 minutes.

Stir in potato, saffron infusion, and 4 cups broth and simmer, covered, until vegetables are very tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes.

In a blender or food processor puree mixture in batches until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids).

In kettle stir together puree and enough of remaining broth to reach desired consistency.

Add half of asparagus tips and bring soup to a simmer.

While soup is heating, chop parsley. Season soup with pepper and salt.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with remaining asparagus tips, nuts, and parsley. Serves 6.

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