1 pound fresh jumbo asparagus
1 quart boiling water
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
¼ cup chopped onions
¼ cup minced leeks, washed well (use all parts)
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup heavy cream
Croutons to garnish
¼ teaspoon chopped parsley
Wash, peel, and snap off the lower stalks of the asparagus. Reserve the peelings and lower stalks.
Lay the asparagus in a deep pan, so that the tips are facing in the same direction. Cover with the boiling water seasoned with salt. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the asparagus are tender but still crisp.
Lift the asparagus from the water and plunge into ice water. Reserve the cooking liquid. One-quarter of the asparagus is used in the soup. (Serve the remaining pieces with vinaigrette, as a salad, or with melted butter as a side dish.)
Cut the tips from one-quarter of the cooked asparagus, reserving both stalks and tips for the soup. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir in the onions and leeks, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, but do not brown. Dust the onions and leeks with the flour and mix thoroughly. Pour in the reserved cooking liquid, blending vigorously with a whisk. Add the raw asparagus peelings, lower stalks, and the reserved cooked stalks. Season with the pepper. Cover and boil gently for 30 minutes.
Purée the soup in a blender or food processor (the soup may have to be puréed in several batches) and force through a fine strainer.
Before serving, reheat the soup and, with a whisk, stir in the remaining two tablespoons of butter and the cream. Adjust seasonings. Add the reserved asparagus tips and garnish with croutons and freshly chopped parsley.
We thank Chef Jacques of L’Auberge Chez Francios for allowing us to reprint this recipe.
Chef Jacques is one of America’s most respected and innovative culinary personalities. Continuing in his father, François’ footsteps, Jacques loves to create and serve contemporary French fare, whether at his family’s Washington DC restaurant, L’Auberge Chez François, or at one of his popular cooking demos and luncheons. His menus feature classic Alsatian and French cuisine reinterpreted for American palates. When he isn’t in the kitchen Chef Jacques can be found sharing his gourmet cooking secrets and tips to sold-out audiences, in the pages of national magazines, and on radio and television programs across the country.
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