1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
6 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
Cut the asparagus spears into bite-size pieces; set the tips aside. Divide the spear pieces into two separate microwave-safe containers. Place 1/2 tablespoon butter in each bowl. Loosely cover both containers and place in the microwave oven; cook on High until the asparagus is completely soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the asparagus steams, melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; cook the onion and garlic in the butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir briskly for 1 minute. Add the chicken soup, milk, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, and the steamed asparagus stalks; cook until heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.
Pour about 3/4 of the soup into a blender in batches, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Add the remaining 1/4 of the soup into the pureed soup; stir in the asparagus spears. Cook until thoroughly reheated, about 5 minutes.