Their act is a bit like the good cop-bad cop routine. Asparagus is sweet, fresh, and clean-tasting--delicate. Tarragon is racy, aggressive, and prone to take over--bold. Together, they're a classic, with each bringing out the finest in the other. The effect is best when tarragon is fresh. Unlike the dried herb, which has an aniselike intensity, fresh tarragon can be used with a free hand.
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) vegetable broth
1/4 cup whipping cream
How to Make It
Rinse asparagus and snap off and discard tough ends. Coarsely chop asparagus.
In a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium heat, stir olive oil and shallots until shallots are limp, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, 1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon, vegetable broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to boiling over high heat and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp when pierced, about 3 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, whip cream until it holds soft peaks.
In a blender, purée soup until smooth, a portion at a time. Season to taste with salt.
Return soup to pan and stir over high heat until steaming. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with remaining tarragon.
Add an equal portion of whipped cream to each bowl.