Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup

This healthy comfort soup is essentially Mark Bittman's Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup with Parmesan from his recent book (2010), The Food Matters Cookbook. I love this cookbook!  I have made some minor changes that improved the taste (according to my tasters) and made it even more kid-friendly. The consistency can be tailored to your picky eaters. If your family doesn't want to see beans in their soup, just use a potato masher a couple of times to mash them up in the soup, before you add the asparagus and cheese. The beans add great nutrition including protein and fiber to satisfy hunger for longer. I use a mister filled with olive oil to spray my asparagus prior to roasting.
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3 tbsp olive oil 2 leeks (2 cups), mostly white portion, well rinsed, finely chopped 1 tbsp garlic, crushed 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper 2 large baking potatoes or 3 medium (4 to 5 cups), peeled and chopped 3 cups cooked or 2 cans white beans, rinsed well 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock 1 1/2 lbs asparagus, peeled if thick 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese


1) Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Meanwhile, add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to large pot over medium-high heat.  Add leeks and cook for 3 to 5 minutes till browning begins, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper and stir to loosen vegetables that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
2) Add potatoes, bean, and stock. Cook on medium heat so that mixture is bubbling steadily.  Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are disintegrating, 20 to 30 minutes.  Add more stock as necessary for desired thickness.
3) Meanwhile, drizzle asparagus in olive oil and salt liberally, and then roast on baking sheet for about 10 minutes.  Let cool and chop asparagus.  Mash potatoes and bean soup mixture with a potato masher to desired consistency (optional).  Add asparagus to soup and top each bowl of soup with cheese.  Serve immediately.