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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So Easy, So French...So Good!

Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

So Easy, So French...So Good!
by Victoria Challancin

Flipping through the March edition of Food and Wine magazine, I knew as soon as I read this recipe that I would make it as a part of a simple French menu.  And I am so glad I did.  No one uses tarragon like the French, and it is perfect in this simple Asparagus and Pea Soup.  And the best news of all is that it is delicious served cold with croutons, as I discovered the following day!

Cook's Notes:  Fresh tarragon is almost impossible to find here in San Miguel de Allende, but 2 tablespoons of very fresh, dried tarragon worked perfectly in this recipe.  Oh, and do't forget the garnish of lemon zest, as I did in the photo, because it adds a necessary sharp flavor punch that perfectly accompanies the gentle creaminess of the soup.I had also intended to add 3/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper to the Parmesan coins, but forgot--a nice addition though, or so I would think.  Even without the pepper, these Parmesan crackers make a great cocktail treat with a glass of wine as well as a lovely accompaniment to the soup.

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Shortbread Coins

(Recipe from Food and Wine Magazine, March 2011)
Serves 6
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (6 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup tarragon leaves plus more for garnish (1 tablespoon dried, or more to taste)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Finely grated lemon zest, for garnish

MAKE THE SHORTBREAD: In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, cheese, thyme, lemon zest and salt. Add the butter and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until lightly moistened crumbs form. Gather the crumbs and knead to form a 2-inch-thick log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Slice the log 1/4 inch thick and arrange on the baking sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden around the edges; let cool on the sheets.
MAKE THE SOUP: In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the asparagus and dried tarragon and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer until the asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the (1/4 cup of tarragon and) the parsley. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, add the cream and peas; rewarm. Season with salt and white pepper and garnish with tarragon and zest. Serve with the Parmesan coins.

*For my San Miguel readers:  I found very fresh, dried tarragon sold in bulk at Luna de Queso.


Parmesan Shortbread Coins with Thyme

Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's getting cooler here and I'd love to cuddle up to a bowl of this soup and some lovely parmesan crackers too! :D