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Asparagus Soup

spearsCOLUMN: Dispatches from the Kalapa Court Kitchen

article by Khenchen Anthony Miller, Regional Machen Officer, Trident Region

In the Kalapa Court, soup is a staple food. Warming, nourishing, and satisfying, a good soup can be amazing. A bad soup, on the other hand, can be dull and disappointing.

The basic point to understand in making soup is that the quality depends primarily on three things. The most important is the quality of the stock or broth used. A stock that you don’t like to sip on it’s own will never allow you to get to soup bliss. Making your own stock from scratch is almost always preferred, but there are many organic broths and stocks that can be reasonable substitutes.

The second is the quality of every ingredient used. If you have a great stock but your vegetables are not fresh and vibrant, you will miss your target.

Finally, the willingness and ability to season properly is key. Tasting your soup as you make it and seasoning it at the end are both essential. In my own restaurants, I know that if we have all three of these aspects working well together, we will have a delicious soup for our customers.

The particular soup that I am sharing here is a favorite of the Sakyong Wangmo, and I have had the pleasure of making it for her several times. It is simple and delicious, and I hope that you will try it at home.

This recipe makes 8-12 servings – depending on how hungry everyone is!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs. Green Asparagus – thin or thick, both will work.
  • 6 cups Vegetable Broth or Stock – always remember to taste first, and only use stock that you find to be tasty and satisfying.
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – preferably mild and not too fruity. As a rule-of-thumb, olive oils with a fresh and fruity character – such as the pricier extra-virgins – will work best on salads, chilled antipasti, and the like. They should not be heated. Milder olive oils, such as virgin or pomace, are better suited to heat and to use in everyday cooking applications.
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 cup of Spanish Yellow Onions, roughly diced
  • 1 cup of Shallots roughly diced – shallots are delicious!
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh Garlic – hand chopping the garlic from a fresh clove produces a better flavor than using a garlic press. When you use a garlic press you lose a lot of the liquid in the garlic clove that has a lot of garlic goodness in it.
  • 3 cups of Heavy Cream
  • .25 cup freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano parmesan cheese
  • PROCEDURE:

    IMG_15441. Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. An easy way to gauge where the woody end meets the tender end is to hold the asparagus at the tip and at the base and bend it slowly until it snaps. It will naturally snap at the right place.

    2. Peel the asparagus if necessary. Thick asparagus stalks will often have a tough skin that needs to be removed; thinner asparagus stalks do not require this.

    3. Heat olive oil for 1 or 2 minutes over a medium heat in a large heavy soup pot. If you have an enameled cast iron pot, this is a perfect use for it.

    4. Add the onions and shallots to the olive oil and give them a good stir. The onions and shallots should be making a satisfying sizzling noise.

    5. After one minute, turn down the heat to medium and cook until the onions are translucent (this is also referred to as “sweating” the onions).

    6. Add the garlic. Cook for another 3-4 minutes over the medium heat.

    7. Add the asparagus, saving a few for garnish, and cook for 3 minutes.

    8. Add all of the heavy cream and turn the heat back up to high. Bring the cream to a rapid simmer, stirring constantly.

    9. Once a rapid simmer has been reached, continue stirring occasionally and reduce the cream for about 10 minutes.

    10. Add vegetable stock and parsley and bring back up to a low simmer. Continue simmering for approximately 30 minutes.

    11. Using a blender or an immersion blend, blend the soup until silky smooth. If using a canister blender, be very careful when blending hot liquids. Do not overfill the blender canister, and be certain to vent the top to allow steam to escape.

    12. For a more refined texture, you can strain the blended soup through a sieve or cheesecloth. The soup is still delicious without straining however!

    13. Add the grated parmesan and season with a good salt and a little white pepper. If you do not like white pepper, you can use black pepper. Black pepper has a slightly better flavor, but will affect the presentation as it will visible unlike the white pepper.

    This soup likes to be salted, so taste and season and repeat until you are happy with the flavor. Salt in moderation is healthy, go beyond hesitation with seasoning!

    If you would like to garnish with some asparagus stalks, blanch them first in simmering water for a few minutes, and then run them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Your asparagus will then look bright and fresh.

    I hope that you will make this soup and enjoy it with your friends and family. It is a great gift to make delicious food for others!

    ~~
    If you would like to learn more about Machen Corps or Kalapa Court cooking, please contact Khenchen Anthony Miller at [email protected] {dot} com.

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    2 responses to “ Asparagus Soup ”
    1. phyllis segura
      Nov 21, 2014
      Reply

      What restaurants? You mention something about in your restaurants. Also, there is no such thing as a rapid simmer. To simmer means to barely see the bubbles rising. You might mean boiling when you say rapid simmer, in any case you are either simmering something or you not. Cooking terminology needs to be quite precise. I have a particular interest in the term to simmer as the ebook introduction edition to my book “Simmer Gently: the contemplative’s cookbook” will be available soon. Would you like my recipe for Asparagus soup? It won’t be in that version of the book. For further recipes, please go to my blog: http://www.cookingontheriver.blogspot.com

    2. Lisa Harris
      Nov 19, 2014
      Reply

      Great article Anthony! And the recipe looks tasty…

      Lisa


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