1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium (1 cup) red potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 medium (1 cup) red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium (3/4 cup) leek, rinsed, thinly sliced*
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
2 (14-ounce) cans vegetable broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves**
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves***
Melt butter in 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until sizzling; add asparagus, potatoes, bell pepper, leek and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes or until asparagus is crisply tender.
Stir in broth, balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon tarragon. Continue cooking 10-12 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. Stir in half & half, salt and pepper.
Place 2 cups soup in 5-cup blender container. Cover; blend until very smooth. Repeat with remaining soup, 2 cups at a time. Place soup into 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until soup is heated through.
Combine sour cream and 1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture.
*Substitute 3/4 cup thinly sliced onion.
**Substitute 1 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon leaves.
***Substitute 1/8 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon leaves.
The smaller the leek, the more tender it will be. To cut leeks, trim roots and leafy ends. Split leeks from top to bottom; rinse thoroughly and slice. Store leeks in plastic food storage bag; place in refrigerator up to 5 days.