Ingredients :

· 1 lb. fresh young asparagus, rinsed
· 4 cups vegetable stock or water (optional: chicken broth)
· 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
· 4 shallots, sliced
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· salt and pepper
· 1-1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup milk (optional)
· 1/2 cup cream
· chopped fresh dill or finely grated Parmesan cheese, garnish

Cooking Procedures :

1. Trim 1 to 1-1/2 inches off the attractive top tips from the asparagus and set aside. Cut the woody tough stem ends and reserve. Slice the remaining tender stalks into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Prepare an ice bath. Set aside.
3. In a medium pot, bring the water or vegetable stock to a boil. Add the reserve woody tough stems. Lower the heat and simmer 15-25 minutes to infuse the flavor. Remove with a strainer and discard. Reserving the stock.
4. Add the trimmed decorative top tips to the stock and blanch until tender for about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to ice bath and refresh. Drain on paper towels and reserve for the garnish. Reserve the stock.
5. In a large saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat.
6. When foamy sauté shallots for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
7. Stir in the remaining chopped asparagus stalks. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Add in the flour, stirring for a few seconds then add the reserved stock. Bring to a boil, half-cover the pan.
9. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the asparagus are very tender. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.
10. Process with a hand-immersion blender, or transfer to a blender (cover lid with a kitchen towel, as hot liquid will expand when blended), or in batches in a food processor, purée the soup until smooth.
11. Pass through a medium sieve set over a clean saucepan. (Optional: You may add the milk and stirring it through to extract the maximum amount of purée).
12. Adjust the seasoning to taste. If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips. Cook, stirring, until the soup is gently warmed through for about 3-4 minutes.
13. Alternatively, if serving the soup later, do not add the cream. Let it cool at room temperature (or place in an ice bath). Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, add the cream and asparagus tips. Warm the soup gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
14. Serve sprinkle with chopped fresh dill or sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!