Nutritional information per 1⁄2-cup serving:
Calories 81 (28% from fat) • carb. 10g • pro. 4g • fat 3g • sat. fat 1g
• chol. 6mg • sod. 525mg • calc. 36mg • fiber 2g
Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium low heat. Add shallots and crushed garlic and sauté over medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Do not allow the shallots and garlic to brown.
While shallots are cooking, cut the asparagus into 3⁄4-inch pieces. When shallots are soft, add asparagus, reserving the tips for garnish, and potato to saucepan and cook for about 6 minutes longer, until asparagus is bright in color. Add wine. Raise the heat to bring the wine to a boil. Reduce the wine until a scant tablespoon remains. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Insert the hand blender into the saucepan, making sure the protective guard is submerged. Blend on Low, using a gentle up-and-down motion until ingredients are well combined, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add salt, pepper and basil. Stir in cream if using.
While soup is cooking, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the asparagus tips and until just tender and bright green. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice water bath to stop cooking. Drain and dry completely.
Serve soup hot, garnished with reserved asparagus tips.