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1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, well rinsed
4 cups chicken stock, homemade or check to be sure it is gluten-free
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 c minced shallots, usually 2
1/2 c minced leeks, whites only, well rinsed, usually just one
1/2 TBS minced garlic, maybe 2 cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
salt to taste
Trim the tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length.
Bend to break off the tough stem end from each spear and reserve.
Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.
Add the decorative tips to the stock and blanch until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with your slotted spoon and shock in an ice water bath. Drain and reserve for the garnish. Reserve the stock.
In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When foamy, add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
With an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, purée the soup until smooth. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Soup thickness is such a personal preference, feel free to add a cup, or two, of additional stock if you prefer a thinner soup. If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the reserved asparagus tips. Cook, stirring, until the soup is warmed through.
P.S. Since we eat a lot of fresh asparagus, here in the Michigan springtime, each time I roast it, steam it, or sauté it, I break off the woody stems and toss them into a baggie in the freezer. Before you know it I have enough to make soup with only having to supplement with a small, fresh bundle. Otherwise the stems will get used in vegetable stock. Eventually.