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Asparagus Soup

8 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 T butter or pesto

Combine the garlic, potatoes and stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. 

Cut the tender asparagus tip ends into bite-size lengths, reserve 1/3. Peel the tougher stalk ends, then dice them. Add all but the reserved pieces to the soup, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until it is just tender, then puree in batches in a blender. Return the soup to the pan, add the reserved asparagus tips and reheat briefly. Season with salt and pepper and ladle into warm bowls and top each with a nugget of butter or pesto. Serves 4 to 6.