Sunday, March 23, 2014

Asparagus Soup

When I was in Oklahoma City, I found asparagus for $.98/lb!!!  I have never seen asparagus so low (thank you Sprouts Farmers Market).  So I made this big batch of asparagus (I froze half of it).  It does make a lot, so you might want to half the recipe.  Perfect as a simple lunch or dinner with some crusty bread and/or a green salad.

ASPARAGUS SOUP (8-12 servings)

3 pounds fresh aspargus, rinsed (don't throw out the ends)
8 cups chicken stock
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup minced shallots
1 cup minced leeks, whites only, well rinsed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/14 cup finely grated Parmesan, garnish

Trim the attractive top tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length.  Cut the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve.  Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2" pieces.

In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil.  Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20-30 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.

Add the decorative tips to the stock and blanch until tender, 1 to 1/2  minutes.  Remove with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath.  Drain on paper towels and reserve for the garnish.  Reserve the stock.

In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  When foamy, add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the chopped asparagus stalks, S&P, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Adjust the seasoning, to taste.  If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips (save a few for garnish).  Cook, stirring, until the soup is warmed through, about 3 mintues.

Alternatively, if serving the soup later or freezing, do not add the cream and let cool at room temp (or in an ice water bath).  Cover and refrigerate or freeze.  Before serving, add the cream and asparagus tips, and warm the soup gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

To serve, place the soup in a tureen and sprinkle with cheese.  Ladle into demi-tasse cups or small coffee or tea cups, and serve.

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