Asparagus soup is an easy, fresh and flavorful dish that puts fresh asparagus to good use. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver

Abundant fresh asparagus is one of life’s genuine luxuries. The patch here is generating stalks like mad and makes enough that I can be profligate with it. One way I use it creates a terrific base for three or four different kinds of asparagus soup.

An onion — sauteed in a little olive oil, to which you add inch-long pieces of asparagus and chicken stock— which you simmer together and salt and pepper to taste, makes the basic soup,with clear asparagus flavor.

Add milk, cream or evaporated milk and you create a cream of asparagus soup. Puree it for a smooth version, good served hot or room temperature. Garnish it with sour cream or not. Make it with vegetable broth if you want a vegetarian version. Add dill for flavor in any of the variations. And freeze it without added milk for soup to eat when the memory of fresh asparagus has faded.

Cook the asparagus in the broth until the vegetable is silky smooth and tender. It will take next to no time. Once you add the milk or cream, bring it back up to temperature very gently so it doesn’t curdle. Someone told me long ago that a little dry sherry added to almost any kind of cream soup improves it very much. That is true of this one.

You don’t need to measure anything in this recipe. Build it around however much asparagus you have. Make it for one person, two or a whole lot of people. Four average stalks is a kind of minimum per person, but add as much as you can or like. Adjust the size of the onion from small for one or two people to larger for more. For chicken broth you can use bouillon and adjust any added salt accordingly.

Serve it in a pretty soup plate for dinner with good old crusty bread, or in a mug for lunch.

Asparagus Soup

Yields a variable number of servings

Olive oil

Onion, chopped

4-6 stalks asparagus per person, chopped into 1-inch pieces

Chicken or vegetable broth, or water

Salt and pepper

Milk, cream, evaporated milk or half and half, optional

Sherry to taste, optional

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot over a medium heat. Add the chopped onions.

Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the asparagus pieces and saute them for 5 minutes or until they turn bright green.

Add the broth until the asparagus is covered. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cook the vegetable until it is tender, 10 or more minutes depending on the size of the asparagus.

Taste and add salt and pepper. Serve or continue directions for a cream soup.

Gradually add milk, cream, evaporated milk or half and half to taste, and bring back up to temperature over a low heat.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the optional sherry, starting with a couple of tablespoons and adding more to your taste.

Puree for a smooth soup, if desired.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...