Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spicy Roasted Asparagus & Leek Soup

This mildly spiced soup is perfect as a first course for either a casual supper or elegant dinner party. I have even served it in small shot glasses as an appetizer. The beautiful color and delicious taste comes from my favorite way of preparing asparagus...roasting.

I love how easy it is to prepare this soup. The asparagus, leeks, and onion are roasted in the oven for 30 minutes and then cooked in vegetable broth with fresh celery for sweetness. The mixture is blitzed in a blender, heated and softened with just a touch of cream.  The finished soup is garnished with chile-infused olive oil for a bit of heat, paprika for color and toasted pistachios for crunch. You will make this soup all spring. Enjoy!

Spicy Roasted Asparagus Soup
(serves 6)

2 lbs asparagus
1/2 large leeks, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 red onion, quartered
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup heavy cream
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chile-infused extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pistachios, roasted & chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and peel if stringy. (You probably will only need to peel very thick stalks. Thin stalks are usually fine as is). Cut off tips of half or the asparagus (1 lb worth) and set aside. Place the rest of the asparagus in a single layer on prepared sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Using your hands, roll the asparagus in oil until coated on all sides. Add leek and onions to the pan and drizzle with oil. Generously season with salt and pepper. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over vegetables.

Roast in the oven for 15-30 minutes or until the asparagus, leeks and onions are beginning to brown and caramelize. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the asparagus stalks. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Add the roasted vegetables, vegetable stock and celery to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Place reserved asparagus tips in a strainer or colander and place in broth. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove tips from broth and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and simmer soup for 20 minutes. 

Puree soup in blender until very smooth. (do this is batches if your blender is small). Add back to the pot and reduce heat to low. Stir in cream. Add a large pinch each sea salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Divide the reserved asparagus tips between 6 soup bowls and serve with a drizzle of chile-infused olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika and pistachios.

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