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This bright, springy soup is so silky and rich that it's hard to believe there isn't any dairy or stock. The secret: onions! (Oh man, we love onions.) They add savory heft to the water-based broth and creamy texture to the pureed soup. Serve it warm, room temperature or chilled, garnished with plenty of cracked black pepper, chive blossoms and shavings of a mild, salty cheese (we like Cypress Grove's Lamb Chopper).
Asparagus and Sugar Snap Pea Soup
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch asparagus (the equivalent of a dozen thick spears), woody ends discarded
2 heaping cups sugar snap peas, stems trimmed
1 lemon, halved
1 heaping cup mint leaves
Put a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once warm, add the onion and saute until translucent; you want soft but not at all colored here (so turn down the heat, if needed).
Cut the asparagus spears below the head and cut the stalks in half again (width-wise). Season the onions with a good sprinkle of sea salt and add the asparagus stalks. Stir, cover the pot and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 4 cups water to the pot, stir, cover, and bring to a boil.
Cut the snap peas in half (width-wise). When the contents of the pot are boiling, check the asparagus; it should be bright green and starting to soften. If so, add the asparagus tips and snap peas; if not, let it cook for another minute before doing so. Add another solid pinch of salt, cover the pot, and cook for 1-2 minutes until the snap peas are bright and just barely soft.
Remove the pot from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the asparagus, onions and snap peas to a blender. Add the juice of half the lemon and a scant 2 cups of the cooking liquid and puree, adding cooking liquid as needed to create a smooth, silky soup. Add the mint and puree again until blended. Taste for seasoning (it will likely need more salt and the juice of the other lemon half) and adjust as needed.