Last Updated on June 16, 2021
I love the combination of chicken and asparagus. Although I’d more normally enjoy the two as part of a Sunday lunch, with roast chicken and butter-basted asparagus, I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for chicken and asparagus soup for some time. It’s a great way to make the most of the woodier stems of asparagus that you might not put in a quiche or stirfry and the base for the soup – a homemade chicken stock – is enhanced by the scraps of meat that you can pick from the carcass once you’ve finished making the stock. It takes me back to my childhood when this time of year was marked by the very special green spears at almost every meal.
Having spent the first few years of my life without any real home (I’d moved school ten times by the time I was eight), my family finally settled in a small seaside town in Norfolk. My father, a GP, was arm-twisted into buying the home of his predecessor – a rambling Victorian mansion with kitchen garden and orchard that was far too large for a first home but had the surgery attached to the house. I remember my mother’s delight when she started to explore the kitchen garden and found three long rows of ferny leaves bisecting the plot.
She told me.
And of course, it was. By the following spring, she’d upset the man who came into help with the garden by cutting it too early but, the ferny rows survived and flourished. Although the tips start to show in early spring, British asparagus doesn’t really come into season until mid-April and then can be harvested for around eight to ten weeks. If I’m honest I rarely taste anything as good as the freshly cut spears we’d collect in the early evening for supper. But, proper British asparagus is a million miles away from the stuff you’ll find all year round in the supermarket.
Asparagus is healthy – full of potassium, iron and calcium and with high levels of vitamins A and C. It’s low in calories (although my own favourite way of eating it, dipping it in melted butter perhaps isn’t quite so good for the diet). And, it has a distinctive flavour that complements sweet chicken perfectly.
To make this soup, start by making good chicken stock. You can use the leftover bones from your Sunday roast, use the remains from jointing your own bird or buy uncooked carcasses for a song. For me, it’s the sign of a good butcher when there are chicken carcasses on offer and one advantage of using uncooked carcasses as the base for your stock is the quantity of perfectly poached chicken meat you generally get from a part of the bird that would otherwise be discarded. My carcasses came from The Parson’s Nose – a small group of butchers in West London. Their carcasses are from their flock of ‘properly free-range birds’ – chickens who are allowed to forage for insects, roaming around grassy fields. That helps them to develop strong bones which make excellent nutritious stock. I generally use two carcasses and make enough stock for at least one batch of soup and one risotto. Now I have an electric pressure cooker, it’s a process that takes less than 40 minutes from start to finish. Without the pressure cooker, it’s a question of putting the stock on to boil when you have time to let it simmer for a couple of hours
I’ve made my soup with a few full shoots of asparagus and with a handful of leftover stems. I wanted a recipe where the chicken pieces and asparagus tips were left whole, in a smooth puree. For a silky base, I used the chicken stock, an onion, a potato, a couple of sticks of celery and the stems of asparagus cut down into chunks. Lightly sauteeing the vegetables first, then adding all the stock and pressure cooking for just 20 minutes before blitzing the mixture with a hand blender. Without the pressure cooker, you could easily make this on the hob, just stirring occasionally and cooking the mixture for about 40 minutes till all the vegetables are soft. Just before you want to serve the soup, add the cooked chicken pieces and asparagus tips and cook for a further 5 minutes. Easy and delicious – you could chill this soup and serve it cold if you prefer. I like adding a dollop of creme fraiche too, but it tastes good with or without.
Frequently asked questions:
- This soup will freeze well, though I’d add the creme fraiche later to avoid any danger of it splitting.
- You can add leftover leaves too – rocket or spinach both work well.
- It’s very low calorie – around 72 calories per serving so excellent if you are watching your weight.
- You can enjoy this soup hot or cold
Here’s the printable recipe for you
Chicken and Asparagus Soup
- Pressure Cooker (optional but allow an extra hour and thirty minutes withouth)
- 2 raw chicken carcass
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1.5 litre water
Chicken and Asparagus Soup
- 50 grams cooked chicken I use the pickings from the chicken carcass
- 1/2 litre chicken stock
- 100 g asparagus stalks chopped
- 1 medium onion peeled and chopped
- 1 medium potato peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks celery peeled and chopped
- 6-8 tips asparagus
- 1 tbsp cooking oil or chicken fat
- 4 tsp creme fraiche to garnish
- salt and pepper
- Put all the ingredients into a pressure cooker and cook on high for 30 minutes
- Release the steam slowly for a clearer stock
- Remove the carcasses and set to one side
- Reduce the liquid down to 1 litre by boiling
- Strain through a fine sieve to remove any bits of herb or tiny bones
- Pick the meat from the carcasses to use for soup, in risotto etc.
Chicken and Asparagus Soup
- Add the fat to the pressure cooker and sear all the vegetables on low for five minutes except the asparagus tips
- Add the stock
- Cook for 20 minutes
- Blitz with a hand blender till smooth
- Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste
- Add the asparagus tips and cooked chicken and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes
- Serve with creme fraiche
Disclosure: I was gifted a selection of meat, including these chicken carcasses from The Parson’s Nose for the purpose of recipe development
Looking for a different recipe to make with asparagus – try our wild garlic and asparagus risotto