Asparagus Soup

Total Time:
1 hr 30 min
Prep:
1 hr
Cook:
30 min

Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Intermediate

CATEGORIES
Ingredients
  • Soup:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 bunches pencil asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup thawed, frozen peas or 1 cup shelled fresh English peas (about 1 pound unshelled)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • Parmesan Breadcrumbs:
  • Four 1/8-inch slices day-old sourdough bread (about 3 ounces)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • One 3-ounce wedge Parmesan
  • Garnishes:
  • Creme fraiche
  • Finely chopped fresh chives
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the soup: In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, bring the oil to medium heat. Add the shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Sweat until translucent, about 1 minute, being careful not to brown. Add the asparagus to the pot and sweat until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and sweat another minute. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pot. Add 5 cups water and continue simmering until crisp-tender, another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Working in batches (and carefully as the liquid will be hot), puree the soup until smooth in a blender. In the last batch, add the baby spinach and puree; this will give the soup a vibrant green color. Strain back into the pot through a fine mesh sieve. Return to a simmer until slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

For the Parmesan breadcrumbs: While the soup simmers, pulse the bread in a food processor until you have very coarse crumbs. Once processed, transfer the breadcrumbs to a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Toss with the thyme. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet tray. Using a grater, finely grate a few tablespoons of Parmesan over the breadcrumbs. Place into the oven and bake until golden and crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

To serve: Ladle the soup into shallow serving bowls. Sprinkle evenly with a few teaspoons of Parmesan breadcrumbs and top with a dollop of creme fraiche. Garnish with chopped chives, cilantro leaves, a squeeze of a lime wedge and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

When blending hot liquids, first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open; this will prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters and pulse until smooth.

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    Recipe courtesy of Michael Chiarello