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Asparagus Soup

25 med.-thick asparagus spears OR
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen asparagus spears
2 tbsp. onion, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, grated
1/8 c. half and half
Pumpernickel croutons
2 c. chicken broth
2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. powdered mustard
Dash Tabasco sauce

Cut 1 1/2 inches off the tips of the spears and reserve. Trim off the tough bottom ends and discard. Place the stalks and the broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and cook, covered for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. Puree cooked asparagus and return to broth and blend. Add onions and cook over low heat until onion is transparent. Stir in flour, salt, nutmeg and mustard. Cook and whisk until mixture bubbles. Add half and half all at once, cooking and whisking until thickens. Add reserved tips and Tabasco sauce. Simmer long enough to cook tips. Serve with croutons. About 6 servings.

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