Saturday, June 15, 2013

Asparagus Soup

Recipe by Emeril Lagasse
Adapted and Husband-Tested in Alice's Kitchen

Here is a deliciously rich tasting soup perfect for a fancy party.  The recipe calls for cream, but we didn't add any to this soup and thought it was very creamy and rich without it.  Adding cream would, of course, take it over the top, but will add fat and calories that you may not want.  Make this using vegetable broth and serve it along with a crisp salad and whole wheat bread for a great Meatless Monday dinner.

2 to 3 pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed
8 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup minced shallots
1 cup minced leeks, whites only, well rinsed
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, 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-inch pieces.

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

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

In a skillet, 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, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. 

Add this vegetable mixture to the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

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

Alternatively, if serving the soup later, do not add the cream and let cool at room temperature (or in an ice water bath). Cover and refrigerate. 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 soup tureen and sprinkle with cheese. Ladle into demi-tasse cups or small coffee or tea cups, and serve.

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