As I put the index of recipes together, a rather tedious little endeavor, I realized that one of the ironies of this blog is that among almost thirty recipes there is only ONE soup and it is a ridiculous one to make, the French Onion Soup.
Ironic I call it because I am a complete soup whore. You name the soup, I love it- autumn squash or spring vegetable, vichyssoise or gazpacho, pho or lemongrass tom yum, sweet or spicy or ultra salty- I just love that soupy liquid! I could not live without soup. I make and love so many different kinds of soups that I could probably dedicate an entire blog, three entries a week minimum, to soups. But the proof was in the pudding…or the index- I have been slacking on the soup-making. Some things, like this one, you need to fix…not for the blog, but for your cooking sanity. I needed soup!
In the spirit of spring and beginning to balance out the index to better reflect my taste, this is my favorite asparagus soup, adapted from a recipe I found a long time ago in the Wall Street Journal.
Spring Asparagus Soup
Ingredients: 4 tbs olive oil; 1lbs pencil green asparagus trimmed 2 inches from bottom; halved lengthwise and finely chopped and 1 inch at the top; 1 small white onion peeled and finely chopped; 3 cups chicken stock; 2 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach; 4 tbs finely chopped chives; 4 oz goat cheese; salt and freshly ground pepper; 1/4 cup heavy cream; 1 tbs cold butter cut into small pieces (optional).
The most tedious part of the prep cook will be prepping the asparagus. It is worth it though. Cut the tips off – about 1 inch and reserve them for serving- I just add them to the soup raw as a garnish.
In the spring when the asparagus is crisp and sweet, these raw tips add the perfect crunch to the soup’s texture. The bottom 2 inches (or less depending on your asparagus) you will discard…or compost if you are into that.
Something about halving the asparagus lengthwise and then chopping it finely makes it more tender during the cooking process. I am not going to attempt to pull an Alton Brown and “explain” why that happens. I don’t really care why- I just know it happens and the way you cut it matters.
Heat 3 tbs olive oil in heavy pot on medium heat – about 2 min. Put the chopped asparagus and onion over the olive oil, reduce heat to medium low and season with salt and pepper- sweat for 5 min stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken stock, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add spinach and continue to simmer for 2 min.
Working in 2 batches, puree soup until smooth- 1 min per batch. Here is the trick to your blender not exploding when you seal hot liquid in- take that little plastic piece out of the lid. It allows it to breathe and not pressurize because of the heat. Then when you are ready to blend, cover with a cloth and your hand. You won’t get burned and the top won’t fly off like it could have if it were totally sealed in. But your cloth will likely get a little dirty.
Optional- to preserve green color cool bowl of puree in an ice bath. I strained it but this took some patience and a little time. Definitely, the 30 minutes of prepping or 30 minutes of cooking don’t include straining. I like it better that way though- it gets rid of all the fibrous parts that did not cook down and blend. Or maybe I really am addicted to straining soups and stocks. Blame Thomas. Bring soup back to boil, add cream and butter whisking till butter melts.
Bring the goat cheese to room temperature. With a fork, fold chives and oil into cheese and season with cracked pepper. Oh, I didn’t have chives this time so I just went with the olive oil, salt and pepper. It was delicious this way too.
To serve: put 2 tablespoons of cheese in the center of a soup bowl and carefully place 3-4 pieces of the fresh asparagus you set aside on the cheese. Pour soup around the cheese till it almost covers it all the way.
Sprinkle kosher salt (or fleur de sel if you have it) around and drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy!
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