Now that spring has officially (and finally!) sprung, it's time to start cooking with the season and celebrating the arrival of warmer days.
There's a lot of spring produce coming on to the scene that you'll start seeing pop up at the grocery store and at your local farmers' market such as ramps, fava beans, peas, pea shoots, radishes, wild mushrooms, rhubarb and artichokes, just to name a few. But the one undisputed king of all spring produce that I look forward to every year is asparagus.
There are so many creative and delicious recipes for asparagus, but sometimes less is more. I want to show you how to showcase this spring beauty in a very simple and elegant way without any fuss, so I'm going to teach you how to make a velvety and bright green asparagus bisque using just 5 ingredients.
The word bisque refers to soups that are smooth and creamy, and are typically shellfish based (but clearly you can make a vegetable-based bisque). Not to make things more confusing, but even though all bisques are soups, not all soups are bisques!
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
3/4 to 1 cup chicken stock
1 small handful baby spinach leaves
¼ cup heavy cream
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1. The first step is to blanch your asparagus. Blanching is the process of cooking a vegetable in a pot of boiling, salted water until crisp-yet-tender. Because we're making soup, you'll want to blanch your asparagus until it's completely tender but still bright green, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and to set the chlorophyll. This step is called shocking.
3. Place your blanched and shocked asparagus in the jar of a blender, and add 3/4 cup chicken stock and the spinach leaves.
4. Puree the soup until it's silky and smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more chicken stock. I made this soup in my Vitamix blender which gave me an advantage. Because this blender is so powerful, I was able to keep it running at high speed long enough to "cook" my soup right in the blender jar. When I took off the lid, it was steaming hot! If you don't have this specific blender, pour the pureed soup base into a saucepan, and place over medium-low heat until hot. Tip: You can also use an immersion blender to puree your soup.
5. Add the heavy cream and lemon juice to taste, and process to combine.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.
When I made this recipe at home for my family, I prepared prosciutto and provolone panini to go with the bisque. This was truly a delicious pairing!
There are many way for you to celebrate the arrival of spring at The Chopping Block this year. If you peek at our May and June class calendars, you'll see that spring has definitely sprung in our seasonal menus!
Bonjour Brunch on June 24th at Lincoln Square features an Asparagus-Leek Bisque in addition to several other French favorites.
Other classes this May and June that feature not only fabulous menus, but asparagus as well are:
- Seasonal Healthy Indulgences: May 22nd at Lincoln Square
- Rendezvous Under the Stars Grilling Class: Several dates at Lincoln Square
- Seafood 101: May 19th at Merchandise Mart and June 18th at Lincoln Square
- Date Night: Italian Steakhouse: Several dates in June at both locations