Creamy Asparagus Soup: Hold The Cream

My husband and I have what we call Jew stomachs. We're not super lactose intolerant, but if given the choice, we avoid cow milk when we can. Luckily, this soup gives you all the velvety satisfaction of a cream soup, without the bloat. (or the extra calories for that matter). There is some butter in the roux but since it's low in lactose, we can both enjoy it just fine. 

It also freezes super well, so I've been taking full advantage of Asparagus season to make large batches. Then, when the fall hits, and all that's left at the market are roots and onions again, I'll still be able to warm up a bowl of spring. 

Here it is relatively step-by-step. (oh baby). 

Trim and cut the stalks, leaving tips in separate bowl. 

Trim and cut the stalks, leaving tips in separate bowl. 

It gets prettier after this. 

It gets prettier after this. 

I'm still amazed by how velvety smooth my Vitamix makes the soup. 

I'm still amazed by how velvety smooth my Vitamix makes the soup. 

It freezes extremely well, and holds together when reheated on the stove. I freeze in containers with a few of the asparagus tips in each one. Enough to have a couple in each bowl.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pds Asparagus
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
1/2 cup green onion finely chopped
chicken stock
butter
flour
egg yolk (optional)

METHOD:

1. Trim and cut the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces, reserving the tips.
2. In large saucepan, boil chicken stock and salt (I use low sodium stock). Add asparagus tips and boil       slowly for 5-8 min until just tender. Drain stock into a bowl and reserve tips. 
3. In same saucepan, melt the butter, stir in flour and cook over low heat 1-2 min. Pour in stock and whisk till blended. Simmer till base comes to a boil, smooth and thick.
4. Continue to allow soup to simmer on low heat.
5. Melt the remaining two tbsp of butter in another skillet. When the foam subsides, add onions and asparagus stalks. Cook for about 3 min then add mixture into the soup base. Cook over low heat for about 15 min, or until asparagus are tender.
6. Puree soup in a blender, then strain back into pot. (No need to strain if using a Vitamix or something super powerful). At this point, it's already delicious, but if you want an extra touch of richness, see point 7.
7. With a whisk, blend egg yolk and add in a small amount of soup, keep adding soup till 1/2 cup has been added, then add mixture back into the bigger pot. Bring to a boil for another 30 seconds then remove from heat. 
8. Top each bowl with a few asparagus tips, and serve hot or cold.

Adapted from original recipe passed to me from my mom. 

Adapted from original recipe passed to me from my mom. 

No leftovers left behind.

There's some much potential to be inventive when you look at your fridge at the end of the week. Last weekend I picked up beets from the market and did a goat cheese and beet salad with my leek and bacon quiche. Towards the end of the week, I made it again with some additions to turn it into a crunchy, soft, sweet, salty, sensory-rich, healthy meal. 

LEFTOVER SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

Pea Shoots
Chèvre
Almond Slices
Avocado
Grapefruit
Roasted Beets

 

DRESSING: 

1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1.5 tsp Honey
Squeeze of half a fresh lemon
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
Finely chopped shallots

Whisk together in bowl - will make extra for the week. 


Enjoy! 

In private of course.

When the market gives you leeks, make quiche.

This past weekend was the first weekend where it was warm enough for the weekly greenmarket near my apartment to be enjoyable again. There isn't much in season yet, but after a winter of potatoes, apples and onions, it was nice to see a bit of green. I grabbed some beautiful leeks, and gold and red beets, and came home to figure out what to make. 

First up: Bacon Leek Quiche

Balance out the richness of the bacon and cream and pie crust with a good serving of salad.

Then sneak a few extra bites of quiche when you're done:)

Recipe for the salad coming up in the next post.    

Recipe for the salad coming up in the next post. 

 

RECIPE:
Makes 1  9-inch quiche. In hindsight, I would have doubled the recipe to have one to freeze.

CRUST: 
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cold butter
4-6 tablespoons cold water

METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 375.
1. Mix together the flour and salt.
2. Mix in the butter. I kept the butter in the freezer then grated it into the bowl, mix it in with the flour till it's evenly distributed and crumbly, I used my hands for this. 
3. Add the water slowly, one tablespoon at a time, just until it's wet enough to hold together in a ball, refrigerate for 30 min. (can make the filling at this time)
4. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and lay into a pan. 
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes - till edges just start to brown. 
6. Let cool while you finish preparing the rest of the quiche.

FILLING:
5 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into centimeter long pieces (there will be extra)
2 large leeks, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 ounces shredded cave-aged Gruyère
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup half-and-half

METHOD:
1. Cut up the bacon, slice the leeks.
2. Cook the bacon till not too crispy, set aside to cool.
3. Leave some bacon fat in the pan, and sweat the leeks in it. 
4. Stir the bacon and leeks together in a bowl, let cool slightly and stir in the grated Gruyère.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half.
6. Fill the shell with the leek mixture, pour the egg mixture over the top and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway. 
7. Remove and transfer to a rack to let cool.

 

 

When Babbo met Terroni

I had a false start of a life in New York about 8 years ago. For my last supper, my roommate and I went to Babbo. Before I left, he gave me a copy of the cookbook and I've been trying to recreate the bolognese as best I can ever since.

When I moved back to New York last year, my last supper was at Terroni in Toronto. They have a mushroom salad there that I've been trying to recreate as best I can ever since as well.

So for a recent Sunday night framily dinner with our other Brooklyn via Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto friends we introduced them to each other.

 Babbo Pappardele Bolognese, meet Terroni Funghi Assoluti Salad.

For the Terroni salad an official recipe didn't exist, so I did my best to make it up, with some help from other eager Terroni lovers who have attempted the same thing. (Thanks Lillies Lattes and Lace, and A Perfect Day for Bananafish.) 

The bolognese calls for a mixture of veal and pork. I've only been buying organic meat for the past couple of years, and find it really hard to find veal at any of the shops near me. Which led me to Mario and Sons Meat Market at Metropolitain near Lorimer. Mario didn't have the veal I wanted that day, but convinced me to get beef and ground it fresh with the pork while his wife told me it would work just as well. I spent an hour in the shop learning about how Mario's wife and son prepare their Sunday sauce, while their grandson played with our dog, and some other cousins fed him pizza crust. It's my new fave in the 'hood. And the sauce turned out great with the beef. 

FUNGHI ASSOLUTI INGREDIENTS:

Freshly grated Parmigiano Regiano
Breadcrumbs: fresh made bakery ones, not the canned ones filled with weird stuff. 
Dried oregano, parsley, salt, pepper 
Arugula
Olive Oil 
Balsamic Vinegar

 

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 425. 
2. Mix breadcrumbs and Parmigiano together - I did about half/half of each. Then add oregano, parsley salt and pepper to taste.
3. Brush mushrooms with olive oil.
4. Dip mushrooms in the bread crumb/cheese mixture and lay out on parchment on baking sheet. 
5. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, till crispy around edges.
6. Toss arugula with olive oil and balsamic
7. Top with the mushrooms right before serving. 

*To time with the meal, I made the mushrooms 80% of the way, then tossed them under the broiler a few minutes before serving. 

 

BABBO BOLOGNESE INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound each fresh ground veal and pork (or beef in this instance)
1/4 Pound ground pancetta (I used finely chopped)
2 medium carrots – peeled and finely chopped
2 medium onions - finely chopped
4 stalks of celery - finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic - sliced
1 can tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
Patience

METHOD:

1. Heat the oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan. 
2. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sweat till vegetables are translucent but not brown. 
3. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables and brown over high heat.
4. Add the tomato paste, wine, milk and thyme and bring just to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 1-1.5 hours – or as long as you can. 

When ready to serve with pasta, put serving of sauce in pan then add pasta with a little extra pasta water to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve, and eat immediately.