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Cream of Asparagus Soup

   Makes 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
   Prep Time: 10 minutes
   Total Time: 35 minutes
   Ease of Preparation: Easy

  3 cups (1/2-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 pound)
  2 cups vegetable broth
  3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, divided
  1 bay leaf
  1 garlic clove, crushed
  1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  Dash of ground nutmeg
  2 teaspoons butter
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1. Combine asparagus, broth, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, bay leaf, and garlic in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Place asparagus mixture in a blender; process until smooth.

2. Place flour in pan. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add puréed asparagus and ground nutmeg; stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 teaspoon thyme, butter, salt, and lemon rind.

Nutritional Notes: per serving: calories 108; fat 3g (sat 2g, mono <.5g, poly 0.g); iron 2.8mg; cholesterol 12.5mg; calcium 190mg; carbohydrate 14g; sodium 296mg; protein 7.6g; fiber 2.7g

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A: 20% daily value; Vitamin C: 15% dv; Calcium: 20% dv; Iron: 15% dv

Cream of Carrot Soup: Substitute 2 cups baby carrots for asparagus. Omit bay leaf. Yield 4 servings .
Nutritional Notes: per serving: calories 113; fat 3g (sat 2g, mono 0.5g, poly <.5g); iron <.5mg; cholesterol 12.5mg; calcium 183mg; carbohydrate 16g; sodium 340mg; protein 5.3g; fiber 2.4g

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A: 220% daily value; Vitamin C: 8% dv; Calcium: 20% dv; Iron: 2% dv

Cream of Leek Soup: Substitute 3 cups sliced leek for asparagus. Substitute 3/4 teaspoon rosemary for thyme. Omit bay leaf.
Nutritional Notes: per serving: calories 127; fat 3.3g (sat 2g, mono 0.5g, poly <.5g); iron 1.7mg; cholesterol 12.5mg; calcium 200mg; carbohydrate 19g; sodium 310mg; protein 5.7g; fiber 1.8g

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A: 30% daily value; Vitamin C: 15% dv; Calcium:206% dv; Iron: 10% dv