This week while I was taking care of groceries, Terry saw a big bunch of fresh asparagus I'd brought home from the market. I had intended to oven roast it and serve it as a side dish with braised short ribs ( one of his favorites). He asked me, "How are you going to cook that asparagus?" I told him my plans and he said, "Could you make that soup instead? It's really good and I like it a lot." ( He was a professional wine and food critic for years - so when he tells me he really likes a dish I make - it boosts my culinary ego.)
The answer, of course, was YES! It IS delicious and a rare treat for us - mostly because it is so rich and calorie laden. It's pretty good on the carbs though - I did some figuring and discovered there are approximately 67 grams of carbohydrates in 2 quarts of soup - so at least it's Keto diet friendly.
This is the kitchen equipment you will need:
1 large pot for blanching the asparagus, 1 large bowl for ice water, 2 trays of ice cubes, paper towels, a cutting board, a sharp kitchen knife, a large spoon or whisk for stirring, various measuring cups, a two quart pot (or larger) for preparing the soup, an immersion blender - or some other form of blending device such as a food processor or regular blender.
Only 9 ingredients are needed to make this soup.
From start to finish it takes just less than a half hour.
Asparagus - 2 bunches of fresh asparagus
Chicken Broth - 4 to 6 cups of chicken broth
Butter - 1/4 cup real butter ( 1/2 a stick)
Flour - 1/4 cup white wheat flour
Heavy Cream - 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream - room temperature
White Cheddar Cheese - 3/4 to 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper - 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Wash and trim asparagus, being sure to remove any spoiled tips or limp spears.
2. Blanch the asparagus by dropping in lightly salted boiling water and simmer for approximately three minutes - or until the aroma fills the air.
Blanching the asparagus helps to retain the fresh flavor, texture and color.
3. Immediately remove hot spears from the boiling water with tongs and plunge into ice water until chilled. (5 minutes at least). The point is to stop the cooking process in order to retain the vegetables bright green color, fresh flavor and texture.
4. Drain asparagus on paper towel and transfer to a cutting board. Chop the stems into 1/2 inch pieces, reserving the tips for garnish. ( At this point you can refrigerate the chopped asparagus and save it until later if you wish).
5. Over low heat melt the 1/4 cup of butter in the soup pot and stir in the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
6. Slowly add 1/2 of the chicken broth, stirring well until smooth - you can use a whisk if you like.
7. Add the chopped asparagus stems and slowly bring up to a simmer, then using the immersion blender, pulverize the mixture until everything in incorporated and no veggie chunks remain. If you are using a food processor or regular blender improvise by putting the room temp broth and chopped veggie in it and blend - then pour it into the soup pot and heat it up.
The immersion blender is a terrific invention. Wouldn't want to be without it.
8. Warm the heavy cream if it is still cold by zapping it in the microwave for 20 seconds - you want to avoid curdling, which is likely to happen if you pour cold cream into hot soup - it should at least be room temperature.
9. Add the additional broth to the pot, which will bring the temperature down -then stir in the cream.
10. Bring soup temperature back up then add the shredded cheddar cheese and stir or whisk until thoroughly melted. You could also give the immersion blender a couple more pulses to be sure everything is thoroughly blended if you want.
11. Ladle into a pre-heated soup bowl - simply rinse the bowl in hot water or fill with water and zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds - or - if you are serving a crowd, heat the bowls by putting them into a warm oven while you are making the soup in order to heat them.
12. Rinse asparagus tips in hot water to warm them up. Garnish the soup with a sprinkle of grated cheddar and the asparagus tips.
Serve this delicious soup with a sweet - or medium sweet - high acid wine such as German Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Blue Nun. The acidity in the wine helps to cleanse the palate from the mouth coating creaminess of the soup. It makes for a perfect pairing.
Until Next Week.......
(PS - Dear Maureen - I know you are the Queen of Soups - but I bet this recipe rivals any of yours! Sincerely - the Soup Princess.)