(Mass Appeal) – Although it’s May, the nights still get cool enough to enjoy a comforting bowl of soup. The lovely Betty Rosbottom, cookbook author and chef, is with us today to demonstrate how to make a smooth and velvety asparagus soup topped with lemon creme fraiche!
May is the month local asparagus at long last appear in our groceries, markets, and outdoor farm stands. Of course, these sleek green spears are delicious blanched, roasted, or grilled, but for something extra special try them in a soup like this creamy asparagus one prepared with sautéed asparagus and leeks that are simmered in stock, and then puréed and enriched with lemon scented crème fraiche. A sprinkle of chives and toasted bread crumbs are the simple garnishes.
- Asparagus Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche and Chives
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
- 1 1/2 pounds slim asparagus, 2 inches of tough stems removed and spears cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (recipe follows)
- Heat the butter in a large, heavy pot (with a lid) over medium heat. When hot, add the leeks and stir and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces and stir to coat with butter for 2 minutes. Add the stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat, and cover. Cook at a simmer until the asparagus are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Season the soup with 1 teaspoon of salt or to taste.
- Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill. Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche and lemon zest. Whisk half of the crème fraîche into the soup and save the remainder for the garnish. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)
- Ladle the soup into 6 soup bowls, and garnish each serving with a dollop of the remaining lemon crème fraiche. Sprinkle each serving with some chives and bread crumbs.
Serves 6 with one-cup portions, 4 with larger servings.
Toasted Bread Crumbs
Use a 1- to 2-day-old good quality peasant or country bread (sourdough works particularly well) with crusts removed, and process enough slices or pieces in a food processor to make 1 cup coarse crumbs.
To toast the bread crumbs, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium, heavy frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are crisp and rich golden brown, for 3 to 4 minutes. Extra bread crumbs can be stored in a plastic self-sealing bag and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Makes 1 cup