For a taste of spring, this luscious recipe celebrates the best of the season.
I fell in love with flavor at an early agein France, where I traveled often with my parents. In the 1970s, nothing the retasted like it did in America. The tomatoes, the peaches, the asparagus, the eggs—everything was so different, so vivid, somuch itself. This soup is the closest thing I know to the French asparagus soup of my childhood, resplendent in a way that seemed exotic to meat the time: a simple combination of leeks, chicken stock, and cream.No corn starch (horrors!) or flourin this soup—the scrumptious thickness comes, ever so slightly, from a lone small potato. One bite and you and I are together in the French country side. Even though asparagus is readily available all year long, the height of the season is now, early spring.
Take advantage of it—you’ll notice a huge difference. Try the soup as a first or main course at lunch or dinner, with or without the Perfect Sea Scallops—there’s just no way to go wrong. Or serve the scallops on their own, or over a spinach salad with bacon when you’re in the mood.
If you’re as hooked on this soupas I am, experiment a bit—add poached shrimp, fresh lump crab meat, or even sautéed chicken medallions for a light but luxurious lunch. This recipe is so easy. In not much more than 30 minutes, you’ll have a cosmopolitan- but homey, bursting-with-exquisite flavor dish that can be adapted however you choose—but please don’t tell how easy it is, because your group will think you’ve been simmering and prepping for days.
Here are a couple more show stopping ideas: For lunch, serve the soup with a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich (croque-monsieur, or addan egg for a croque-madame), or fill demitasse cups with the soup at cocktail time. Cold or hot, it really doesn’t matter. Something this stylish and marvelous is as beloved and versatile as a little black dress—and just as classic. OK, I’ve given you lots of serving ideas for Asparagus Soup with Perfect Sea Scallops—whatare yours?
Happy cooking! Love, Alex.
ASPATAGUS SOUP WITH PERFECT SEA SCALLOPS
Yield: 2 quarts, 8 to 12 servings
8 tablespoons butter
8 small leeks (white parts only), trimmed and chopped
6 cups water
1 small baking potato, peeled and chopped
2¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
1 cup chicken stock
3 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
In a medium-size heavy stockpot, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the foaming has subsided, turn the heat to low and add the leeks. Let them steep until they are soft, approximately 10 to12 minutes. Do not let them brown.
Add the water, potato, salt, both peppers, and chicken stock, and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Add the asparagus and bring the soup to a boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until it has reduced by approximately a quarter. Remove it from the heat.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree the soup—in batches, if necessary—until it is very smooth, then stirin the heavy cream.
Put one serving of Perfect Sea Scallops in the bottom of each bowl before adding the soup.
Once the potato pieces have softened in the simmering liquid, add the chopped asparagus and then bring the soup to a boil. Napkin on pot handle by Yves Delorme. Place mat from Scully & Scully. 2. When the soup has reduced by about a quarter, remove it from the heat and puree it in a food processor, in small batches if necessary.
Perfect Sea Scallops
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sea scallops
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
In a heavy nonstick skillet over high heat, melt the butter and oil together. Place the scallops, salt, and pepper in a medium-size mixing bowl, and toss the scallops in the seasoning.
When the butter’s foaming has subsided, place the scallops in the pan and sauté them for 3 minutes, until a brown crust forms.
Turn the heat down to medium low and turn over the scallops. Add the garlic, vermouth, and lemon juice and sauté for one more minute, then turn off the heat. Remove the scallops with tongs and place one serving in the bottom of each soup bowl before adding the soup.
To serve the scallops on their own, place them on a serving platter, pour the remaining sauce from the pan over them, and garnish with the parsley.
Photo by Victoria Pearson