Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lightened-Up Asparagus Soup w/ Goat Cheese

If you love asparagus, this is the soup for you. EVEN IF you don't love asparagus, this is the soup for you. I'm a fan of asparagus, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this soup. And my absolute favorite thing about it was that it had such a rich flavor, and creamy texture, but no cream. That's right, no cream! Instead of adding cream at the end (a wonderfully fatty way to make anything instantly delicious), this recipe utilizes plain Greek yogurt, and then, for some added creaminess, just add a touch of goat cheese (you honestly don't even need as much as I added in the photo above -- I got a little carried away, as usual). So pick up some asparagus while it's still beautifully in season (and oh so cheap!), and make a soup that, in every way, you will feel good about eating!

Makes 4-6 servings

* 2 lbs. fresh asparagus, rinsed (about 2 bunches)
* 4 cups chicken stock
* 2 tablespoons butter 
* 1 large leek, rinsed well and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
* 1-2 shallot(s), small diced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 small lemon, juiced
* 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, room temp
* Optional: 4 oz. goat cheese, plain or herbed

* Trim the attractive tips from the asparagus, and reserve 1/2 for garnish.
 * Cut the rest of the asparagus into 1 inch pieces.
* Discard the woody ends (I can always tell where it starts to get "woody" by snapping the asparagus tip off at the end -- where it naturally breaks is where you want to cut.)
** Note: If you have the time, you can infuse more asparagus flavor into the soup by adding the woody ends to a boiling pot of your chicken stock, and then reducing the heat to a simmer, and cooking for about 30 minutes. Discard the woody ends, and then use the stock as you normally would in the recipe.

* In a medium pot, heat the butter over medium heat.
* Add the leeks and shallots, and cook until tender (about 3-4 minutes).
* Add the garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring often. 
* Add the broth, and bring to a boil.
* Add the reserved asparagus tips, and cook for 1 minute.
* Remove with a slotted spoon, and place tips in an ice water bath.
* Drain, and set the tips aside to dry.
* Add the rest of the asparagus, salt, and pepper, to the boiling water, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
* Cook until the asparagus is very tender (about 20 minutes).
* Using a blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth (note: I tried using my immersion blender and found it didn't work as well).
* Stir in the greek yogurt.
* Season with salt & pepper (to taste). 
* Your soup is ready to serve! Garnish with some of the reserved asparagus tips, a sprinkle of goat cheese, and get your spoon ready for this...

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