Asparagus is probably one of the most liked vegetables. The stalks are sweet and nutty and great steamed or roasted. Folklore has it that this vegetable is an aphrodisiac, as it was included in the 15th century Arabic sexual manual, The Perfumed Garden. So in honor of Valentines Day and for all the romantics out there, here’s a recipe for you.
Typically, asparagus are a spring vegetable. But these days you can get fresh asparagus all year long. I use white asparagus for this recipe, as they are a bit sweeter and the contrast with the accompanying arugula basil coulis makes for a nice presentation, but you can easily substitute green asparagus. This recipe is good hot as well as chilled.
The creaminess of this soup comes not from cream, but from a small white new potato (about 1/3 lb in size). Pureeing the soup in a blender or food processor then putting it through a food mill makes for a really creamy, silky texture that lets the delicate asparagus flavor really come through. It makes for an elegant and even romantic first course.
White Asparagus Soup
1 lb white asparagus
3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup sliced leeks (about half of a stalk of 1 leek)
1 large clove of garlic thinly sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoons olive oil
1 new potato about 1/3 lb or 5oz in weight, peeled and diced
Pinch or two of nutmeg
A few drops of Arugula Basil Coulis
Cut off tips and hard ends of asparagus and cut remaining asparagus pieces into half or thirds. Add hard ends to stock and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Discard ends. Add tips and cook in simmered covered stock for 5 minutes. Reserve tips. Pour stock into a bowl and reserve. Add butter and oil to pot and sauté leeks and garlic until soft. Add stock, asparagus, potato, salt and nutmeg to pot. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Pour ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour puree through a food mill for a more silky consistency. Add to pot to heat up if needed.
Serve with reserved asparagus tips and a few drops of Arugula Basil Coulis.