Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CSA Week 3: Grilled Asparagus Soup with Dill Creme Fraiche

This is a springtime favorite, grilling the Asparagus adds another layer of flavor while adding lemon juice and zest brightens up the earthy Asparagus. It is very simple to make and has several variations like adding cream to make a bisque or if you do not have access to a grill roasting or blanching will also do (I would, however, recommend roasting over blanching for more flavor). Keep in mind that the ingredient quantities are not set in stone if you don't have a shallot, fine. If you have a white onion, fine. If you want to make a large batch to feed your friends - double it. I always try to use whats in my fridge and on hand so no good vegetable goes to waste. I also use extra onions in lieu of stock when I don't have it. Caramelizing the onions makes up for the flavor gained from using veggie or chicken stock. I welcome any questions or comments...

Ingredients to gather: Feeds 2 as a lunch entree or 4 as an accompaniment.
8 Asparagus Spears
2 Spring Onions
1 Green Garlic stalks
1 Shallot
1 Red or Yellow Onion
1 Lemon
Few sprigs of fresh Dill
2 Tablespoons Butter (optional)
Couple dollops of Sour Cream
Grapeseed Oil (or oil of your choice, I prefer Grapeseed)
Salt and Pepper

Items from my CSA share:
Asparagus, Spring Onions, Green Garlic, Dill

Extra items I had in the pantry:
Red Onion, Shallot, Lemon

Step 1: Grilling the Asparagus
Cut the tough bottoms off the Asparagus

Place in dish or tray and drizzle generously with oil, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly to make sure each spear is well coated with oil. I use my hands, they are less damaging then tongs or other utensils and I can feel the oil distribution.

Heat grill to medium-high heat and place Asparagus on grill.

After a couple of minutes you will need to turn them by taking your tongs and rolling them over. No need to pick each one up just roll one or several at a time.

After a few more minutes pull them off the grill. Remember the small ones will cook faster so they are the first you should turn over and the first to be removed. The Asparagus should have some dark grill marks on them and they should have a little give but not be totally limp. The Asparagus will continue to cook for a little bit after pulling them off the heat. Make a few extra if you have them for hungry snackers...

Step 2: Preparing the Green Garlic and onions

Slice the ends off the Green Garlic and Spring Onions (I accidently deleted my green onion pic) and slice the lower white portion into coins. Set aside.

Slice the each end off the red onion.

Make a shallow slice across the onion (perpindicular to the ends that you just cut).

And peel the outer skin off the onion.

Cut the onion in half,

then in half again

Hold the two quarters together and slice beginning at the bottom closest to the cutting board and working to the mid point at the top. At this point move the cut onions away and turn the remaining quarters around and repeat until finished.

Sliced onions.

For the shallot cut the ends off and peel like the red onion but slice into coins similar to the green garlic.

Mix all onions together.

Step 3: Combining the ingredients
Place medium soup pot on the stove on medium heat or just above. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil and a tablespoon of butter (or 2 Tbsp of oil and no butter) plus salt and pepper and sautee all the onions and the Green Garlic until soft and semi-translucent. While the onions are cooking follow the steps below...

chop the Asparagus, reserving a few tops for garnish.

Using a microplane (on my wish list) or the small grate on a hand grater, grate the entire lemon, then cut into quarter sections.

When the onions are softened add the chopped Asparagus and most of the lemon zest reserving some for garnish.

Squeeze the lemon wedges into the soup, if you want a less tangy soup use only half. I like mine tangy so I use it all. Be careful for the seeds. You may want to use a strainer just in case. I strain it through my fingers - in which case you will inevitably be reminded of some forgotten paper cut...

At this point add enough water or stock of some sort to just cover the ingredients, bring the soup to a boil for a few minutes then turn it off. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, finely puree the soup until completely smooth.

Step 4: Garnishing

Dill, sour cream, lemon zest

Mix sour cream, a little zest and about a teaspoon of lemon juice with a tablespoon or so of Dill until smooth and creamy. This is not a true creme fraiche, however the lemon adds a tanginess similar to that of creme fraiche.

Put creme fraiche in a squirt bottle (a ziploc bag with a very small section of the bottom corner cut out works as well) and zig zag the cream over the top of the soup.

Drag a toothpick or skewer over the cream in the opposite direction in order to create the design on the soup. Add the reserved Asparagus tips and sprinkle with any remaing zest.

Step 5: Eat, Savor, Nourish...

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