Enjoy Those Spring Vegetables – Awesome Asparagus Soup

01 Apr

We love asparagus in our household so it is great when it is in season and you can get lost of it at a really good price around here. It has such great flavor and there are so many different recipes you can make with it (we love it roasted; if you haven’t tried it that way, give it a shot). Couple the spring asparagus with the ridiculous cold weather we still have here in New York, and it seemed like a great time to make this great soup recipe I picked up from the food network. This recipe also makes some Parmesan breadcrumbs, which I did not make, but they sound pretty good to me. I opted to make some biscuits instead, but you could just as easily do the breadcrumbs.

Asparagus Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
3 bunches pencil asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup thawed, frozen peas or 1 cup shelled fresh English peas (about 1 pound unshelled)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach

For the Parmesan Breadcrumbs:
Four 1/8-inch slices day-old sourdough bread (about 3 ounces)
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
One 3-ounce wedge Parmesan

Garnishes for the Soup:
Creme fraiche
Finely chopped fresh chives
Fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges
Asparagus tips
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the soup: In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, bring the oil to medium heat. Add the shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Sweat the shallots until they are translucent, about 1 minute, being careful not to brown them. Add the asparagus to the pot and sweat the asparagus until it is beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and sweat for another minute. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pot. Add 5 cups of water and continue simmering until the asparagus are crisp-tender, about another 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside.

Working in batches (and carefully as the liquid will be hot), puree the soup until it is smooth in a blender. In the last batch, add the baby spinach and puree; this will give the soup a vibrant green color. Strain the soup back into the pot through a fine mesh sieve. Return the soup to a simmer until it is slightly thickened, about 4 to 6 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the soup from the heat.

For the Parmesan breadcrumbs: While the soup simmers, pulse the bread in a food processor until you have very coarse crumbs. Once processed, transfer the breadcrumbs to a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle the breadcrumbs with a generous amount of olive oil. Toss the breadcrumbs with the thyme. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a parchment-lined sheet tray. Using a grater, finely grate a few tablespoons of Parmesan over the breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumbs into the oven and bake until they are golden and crispy, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the breadcrumbs from the oven and cool.

To serve: Ladle the soup into shallow serving bowls. Sprinkle the soup evenly with a few teaspoons of Parmesan breadcrumbs and top with a dollop of creme fraiche, if desired. Garnish with chopped chives, cilantro leaves, asparagus tips or a squeeze of a lime wedge and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.Serve immediately.

The soup has great flavor from all of the vegetables and looks a great green color, just right for spring. One thing to remember when you are blending hot liquids, is to first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer it to a blender, filling the blender only halfway. Put the lid on, but leave one corner open so you don’t have a vacuum that can make the whole thing explode on you. It’s dangerous and messy if you don’t do this. Make sure you  cover the whole thing with a towel too while you are blending to catch any splatters that can happen along the way as well. It’s a great soup that is very easy to make. The Parmesan breadcrumbs would be a nice addition because the soup does need the salt and pepper to get really good flavor and the breadcrumbs can give you that and more.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!



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