There comes a time when everyone needs a little comfort food. Lovely hot soup with fresh bread and a glass of wine always does it for me. Maybe this recipe will do it for you, too.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
- 2 lbs. fresh asparagus
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 7 tbsp. butter
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 3 tbsp shallots or scallions, chopped fine
- 2 egg yolks
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. butter, softened
- White pepper to taste*
Slice off the asparagus tips and set aside. Trim off ¼ inch or so from the bottom ends of the stalks and discard. Chop the rest of the spears into ½ inch lengths.
Use a medium-sized saucepan to bring the chicken stock to a boil. Drop in the tips and lower temp to medium-low or soft boil. Cook tips until just tender, 5 – 8 minutes. Drain the stock into a bowl and spoon the tips into another one.
Melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a 4 -5 quart saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in the flour. Lower heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Be careful not to let this roux brown or the soup will be bitter.
Remove pan from heat, let cool 30 seconds or so. Pour in stock. Stir constantly with a whisk to thoroughly blend the stock and roux. Return pan to moderate heat and stir until this soup base comes to a boil, thickens, and is smooth. Lower the temperature and simmer gently.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. When the foam subsides, stir in the stalks and shallots. Toss them in the butter over low heat for 4 minutes or so. You only want to soften them so don’t allow them to brown. Stir this mixture into the soup base, add sherry, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until asparagus is tender.
Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine sieve back into the pan.
Whisk the egg yolks into the cream. Stir in 5 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added about ¾ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup.**
Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and season with pepper if necessary. Add the asparagus tips.
Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.
This recipe makes 6 bowls.
*No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. Use black pepper only a little more as it is not as strong as white pepper.
**This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the yolks and cream will curdle.