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Asparagus and Morel Mushroom Soup

3 tb Butter
1/2 c Finely chopped onion
4 c (or more) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 lb Asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 pk (9-oz) frozen artichoke hearts
4 Garlic cloves, peeled
6 oz Spinach leaves (about 8 C)
1 tb Dried tarragon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 oz Dried morel mushrooms
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 tb Chopped fresh parsley
16 Cooked asparagus tips


Melt 2 T butter in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 4 C stock, 1 lb asparagus, artichokes and 4 garlic cloves. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Add spinach, tarragon and nutmeg and simmer until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Puree soup in blender in batches until smooth, Strain through medium strainer into large saucepan, pressing on solids until only artichoke fibers remain. Stir in more stock if soup is too thick. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)


Place morels in large bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Squeeze all excess moisture from morels. Cut morels in half lengthwise. Melt remaining 1 T butter in heavy small skillet over medium-low heat. Add morels and minced garlic and saute until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange morels and asparagus in bowls. Ladle soup over.


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