Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe
Cream of asparagus soup is a dish I recently served for a dinner party as a first course. The soup is packed with asparagus flavor. This is because I made the vegetable stock with the roots from the asparagus, then I blended in the asparagus that I roasted for a few minutes. The usual roux helps thicken the soup to which I then added St Félicien cheese, -one of my husband Lulu's favorite cheeses-, for extra creaminess.
This step is optional but if you want to be met with a round of "oohs" and "ahs" when the bowls of soup are brought to the dinner table, I suggest that you cover the bowl of soup with puff pastry. For decoration, top with a little saffron cream and an asparagus spear. It's a truly seductive way to start a meal.
Yields: 8 servings2 (1-pound) packages fresh asparagus
4 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh bay leaf, torn in half
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the puff pastry
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for the puff pastry
3-½ cups homemade vegetable stock (canned vegetable broth or water), warm
2 teaspoons store-bought no-salt seasoning (blend of 21 spices and herbs)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (stems included), chopped
5 ounces St Félicien cheese (optional)
1-½ cups crème fraîche (or sour cream)
½ cup heavy cream, cold
3/4 teaspoon saffron threads
8 (5 x 5-inch) puff pastry squares, store-bought
Prepping the saffron:
In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads into a fine powder.
Make sure the whipping cream is cold for optimum results. Whisk the rest of the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add ½ the amount of ground saffron. Season with salt. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Reserve the rest of the saffron in the mortar and pestle. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
Roasting the asparagus:
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Trim about 1 inch from the root of each asparagus. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Brush with olive oil. Spread the asparagus on the baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the asparagus. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, tossing half-way through the cooking process for even roasting. The asparagus should be tender.
Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut the spears of 8 asparagus. Reserve them for decoration later. Chop the rest of the asparagus.
Making asparagus soup:
In a pot, heat the rest of the oil. Add the bay leaf and the onions and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the celery and carrots. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat until caramelized. Transfer to a platter. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low; you don't want the butter to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and immediately add the flour and the dried thyme. Keep stirring with a whisk for approximately 2-3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Stir well until incorporated and add the vegetable stock in 3 stages. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 10 minutes. Add St St Félicien cheese and reduce the heat to low. Season with no-seasoning salt, salt and pepper. Let the roux rest until it's time to assemble the dish.
Bring 2-½ cups of water with the chopped asparagus, as well the parsley, reserved onions, celery and carrots to a boil. Add them to the sauce with its liquid and cook for another 15 minutes. Season with salt. Using an electric handheld blender, slightly tilt the pot and mix the asparagus soup. Add the roux, stirring constantly to the desired thickness. Bring the heat back to a boil and add the crème fraîche and the saffron liquid. Add another ¼ cup of water into the mortar to ensure all the saffron is used. You might add more water (or broth) if you like it more soupy (I didn't). Adjust seasoning.
40 minutes before you're ready to serve...
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Roll and extend the squares of puff pastry a little bit using a rolling pin. Dust with a little flour, if necessary. Place the soup bowl upside down over the puff pastry dough. Cut out a round of puff pastry. The disk should be slightly larger than the circumference of the soup bowls. Repeat and for 8 disks, total.
Gather the remaining puff pastry and form 8 long strips, the size of the circumference of the soup bowls.
Pour ladles full of the cream of asparagus, divided amongst the 8 soup bowls.
Place the strips of puff pastry dough around the edge of the soup bowl, then cover the bowls with disks of puff pastry. Fold the excess dough under itself. Seal and crimp the dough to fold over the side with your fingers. Press the edges of the bowl using a fork and create a pretty design. Brush the dough with a little melted butter (or an egg wash) using a silicone brush. Make 2- 3 slits on the top of each pot pies using a paring knife.
Place the 8 mini pot pies on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F and rotate the baking pan for even baking. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the pie crust is golden and flaky.
Remove from the oven and let the soup cool down for about 15-20 minutes.
When you're ready to serve, add a dollop of the reserved saffron cream and garnish with a roasted asparagus spear.
I used St Félicien cheese, which is very similar to St Marcellin cheese. It's creamier, milder and higher in fat. St Félicien originates from a small village in Haute-Ardèche, South-Central of France.
Saffron is quite expensive, so I usually get it at a more reasonable price at the Indian market. It gives the sauce a yellow hue and a nice aroma.
To make the roux (thickening agent for the soup), I always use all the ingredients at the same temperature, so make sure to heat the vegetable stock in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.
For a healthier version, you could replace the crème fraîche with milk.
I made the vegetable stock with a bouquet garni, carrots, turnips, celery and the remnants of asparagus roots.Published By: on December 16, 2010.