For the vegetable stock:
(Makes 7-8 cups)
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup 2-inch dice yellow onions (can leave skin on)
1 cup 2-inch dice celery
1 cup 2-inch dice peeled carrots
1 cup 2-inch dice green onions, white and green parts
1 cup 2-inch dice cremini mushrooms
12 asparagus spear bottoms, stalks and tips reserved for the soup
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry white wine
2 qts. water
For the soup:
2 Tbs. salted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
1/2 cup 1-inch diced peeled Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups chopped asparagus spears
12 asparagus tips
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
For the stock:
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté for two minutes.
Add the rest of the vegetables, salt, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves and stir for one minute. Add the white wine and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer the stock for one hour. Strain the stock into a heatproof container and discard the cooked vegetables. Cooled to room temperature and covered, the stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
For the soup:
Heat the butter in a stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté for about four minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and stir for one minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chopped potatoes and two cups of the vegetable stock. Cover and cook for five minutes, or until the potatoes start to soften.
Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus tips in a saucepan of boiling water just until softened. Drain and dry on paper towels.
Add the chopped asparagus and remaining stock and cook for five minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Working in batches, process the soup in a food processor until smooth. Return the soup to the stockpot over medium-low heat; add the cheese, salt, and pepper; and stir until the cheese is melted. Slowly add the cream, stirring continuously. Do not let boil.
Once the soup is hot, ladle it into four soup bowls and add three asparagus tips to each bowl for garnish. Serve immediately. Cooled to room temperature and covered, the soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.