Chilled Green Asparagus Soup with Goat Cheese and Lemon Zest
- 1 pound asparagus spears
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Goat Cheese Cream
- 4 oz of soft goat cheese
- 1 ½ oz heavy cream
- 1 Lemon zested
- 1 Teaspoon chopped chives
Cut each asparagus stalk near the base. Trim away about 3 inches from the tops of 12 spears to use for garnish. Bring a large pot of vegetable stock to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add the asparagus tips to the boiling stock and cook until bright green and nearly tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Scoop out the tips with a slotted spoon and immediately put in the ice water to quickly cool. When the asparagus is cold, drain well and arrange on paper towels to dry. Set aside the asparagus tips for later use.
Return the stock to a boil.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the asparagus pieces, then add the vegetable stock. Bring the stock just to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the crème fraiche (if using), and simmer until the asparagus is very tender, 5 minutes.
Strain the asparagus, returning the liquid to the saucepan. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat and boil to reduce to two-third.
In the meantime, purée the asparagus mixture in a blender or food processor until very smooth. If the purée is quite thick, add a couple tablespoons of stock to lighten the purée. Pass the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl sitting in the ice water to cool off quickly, also pressing with the back of a rubber spatula to remove any fibrous bits. Stir the puréed asparagus into the cooking liquids.
Taste the soup for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cut the reserved asparagus tips in half lengthwise (unless the tips are already quite thin).
For the goat cheese, whip the cheese with the whip cream until soft and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, whisking to fully blend.
To serve, ladle the asparagus soup into shallow soup bowls. Form 4 large quenelles of goat cheese and set them in the center of the soup. Lean the reserved asparagus tips up against the goat cheese. Scatter the chives over the cheese. Drizzle the top of each soup with lemon zest.
Makes 4 servings
© 2016 Thierry Rautureau
The Chef In The Hat™
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