Last night, the Booze Hound and I went to Cityview Magazine’s Top Chefs Knoxville 2014. This means two things:
1. I continue to be impressed by the execution, creativity, and all-around skills of Knoxville chefs. Well done, gents! And ladies… ladies? We need to see more lady chefs! I know you are out there!!
2. I ate. A lot. More than a lot. In fact, saying I ate a lot is like saying Bruce Jenner has had just a little but of plastic surgery. I mean, I threw it down. I came to play. I ate all those meals, all those desserts, undid my belt, attempted to recline in my straight-back chair as much as is acceptable for a lady, then deposited my ballot with pride at the end of the night.
I always leave this event (one of my favorites of the year!!) brimming with food inspiration. Clearly, I also leave this event brimming with food. Therefore, the day after the event needs to include food of a lighter nature, but no less inspiring.
A perfect day for Cream of Asparagus Soup.
While not exactly an earth-shatteringly creative meal– there are no foie-gras-and-cotton-candy lollipops (still trying to figure out how I feel about those since I ate one last night…)– it’s asparagus season. And great meals that highlight seasonal produce are always inspiring. Plus, we all know how I feel about pureed soups. (Spoiler: I LOVE THEM.)
This soup is simple, light, and delicious. Nothing masks the delicate asparagus flavor, yet everything contributes to the overall beauty of this soup. I have served large bowls of this with baguette as a light dinner, small bowls of this as a side dish to a more substantial grilled dinner, and someday, when I decide to have sit-down dinner parties with multiple courses on my fancy dishes (read: when I’m done having babies), I will serve this as a delicate first course. Tonight, it’s going with a gorgeous salad I CANNOT WAIT to try (chant it with me: fu-ture POST! Fu-ture POST!).
Welcome to the Food Hound, where a simple, fabulous cream soup is part of food binge recovery.
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T butter
- 2 bunches of asparagus (about 2 lbs)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- ½ c heavy cream
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (the good stuff!!) for serving- lots and lots!
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and shallots + a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions and shallots start to caramelize.
- While the onions and shallots are cooking, prepare your asparagus. Trim the bottom 1-2 inches of the stalks (they are woody and fibrous- not what you want in your delicate soup!) and discard. Chop asparagus stalks into 1-inch segments and set aside.
- Add the asparagus stalks to the onions and sauté for about a minute. Add the chicken stock (a range of 4-6 cups based on how thick you like your soup), bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until creamy (or add the entire pot to a blender, puree, then return to the pot). Return soup to a gentle simmer to reheat, then add the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper (start with about 1 tsp of each, knowing that the mountain of parm you add will also add saltiness!). Serve with lots of grated parm.