My kids love this soup because it tastes great. I love it for its taste, but also for the utter ease of preparation. With asparagus season upon us, I will cook this soup many times.
While I started making this soup with angel hair pasta many years ago, I now often make it with rice or bean vermicelli noodles for a gluten-free option. (The top photo shows the vermicelli noodles, the bottom standard angel hair pasta.) The addition of egg yolks is a special part of this soup. They create a velvety broth that I really love. Sautéing the asparagus briefly, removing to a plate, and adding it back in at the end ensures a still-crisp stalk that makes this soup a real treat.
Before I shared this recipe with my Fountain Avenue Kitchen friends, I thought I should make it once using the yolks and the whites. Any guesses what happens? (Ok…I’ll tell you!) You end up with an asparagus version of egg drop soup. For those who may not have tried this traditional Chinese soup, a thin stream of beaten eggs is added to the boiling broth in the final moments of cooking, creating thin, silken strands or bits of cooked egg that float in the soup.
Maybe it is because I have always made this soup with just the yolks, but that is my first choice. If egg drop soup is your go-to item when ordering Chinese, however, feel free to make it, whites and all. Otherwise, save the whites for an omelet!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into bite-size pieces (about two bunches or 3 cups)
- 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) chicken broth, plus an extra cup or so to thin any leftovers
- Zest of half a lemon, optional
- 3-4 ounces angel hair pasta, broken into small pieces (see notes for details and gluten free options)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the asparagus over medium-high for 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness, or until crisp-tender. Remove to a plate.
- Add the 6 cups of broth and the lemon zest. Increase the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks. Slowly add one cup of the hot broth to the yolks, whisking as you add. Then whisk the egg mixture back into the soup pot. Whisking consistently as you pour the mixture back in will allow it to fully and smoothly incorporate into the broth.
- Bring the soup back to a simmer for one minute, adding the sautéed asparagus, and salt and pepper to taste. I typically add about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. This may vary according to taste and what type of broth you use.
- Remove soup from the heat, ladle into bowls, and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.
- Use the smaller amount of pasta if you prefer a "brothier" soup, the larger amount if you like it a bit heartier.
- While I started making this soup with angel hair pasta many years ago, I now often make it with rice or bean vermicelli noodles for a gluten free option. The bean vermicelli are glassier when cooked and difficult to break, so I often rough cut them with my kitchen scissors (in the pot, once cooked) to make the soup easier to eat. My kids actually love these noodles.
As a funny side note, the day I took this photo, it was very dreary…so much so that I had to carry the soup bowl outside to capture what little natural light I could! If you look at the spoon, you can see our red front door in the reflection…and me holding my camera. No special effects or lighting around here…although it might be nice!