Asparagus and Bread Soup with Pancetta
- 1/4 cup diced pancetta
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 3 cloves garlic, whole
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed
- 1 cup small pieces country bread
- 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves
- 2 cups 1-inch-long chopped asparagus
- 2 cups spinach, washed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Chives, chopped, for garnish
- Creme fraiche or sour cream, for garnish
In a large saucepan, sweat the pancetta with the olive oil until crispy and fully rendered, 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the onions, shallots and garlic. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Once the aromatics are soft, about 5 minutes, add the stock, bread and tarragon. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the asparagus and spinach. Simmer until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the contents to a blender, and make sure you've added enough stock to achieve the desired consistency. Blend the soup and season with the lemon juice. Adjust the salt and pepper as necessary. If available, strain through a fine mesh strainer. This soup can be served hot or chilled.
Serve with the crispy pancetta, chopped chives and a dollop of creme fraiche. If serving cold, additional chicken stock may be necessary to make sure the consistency is correct.
Blending Hot Liquids: When blending hot liquids, remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid; that prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times, then process on high speed until smooth.