Monday, May 22, 2017

Asparagus and Leek Soup with Poached Egg

Although I will certainly pass on the hottest of summer days, I generally enjoy eating soup year round. There are seasonal ingredients that can make an absolutely stellar soup that you will not find in season in the cooler fall and winter months.

Asparagus is a perfect example. It's best enjoyed in the spring, and this Asparagus and Leek Soup with Poached Egg is a mighty fine way to showcase it.

You actually use all parts of the asparagus in different ways. The tough ends are simmered in stock to impart their flavor into the soup base, while the tips are sauteed as a final garnish. The middle parts make up the bulk of the soup, and are simmered with leeks, a bit of white wine, and the asparagus-and-leek infused stock before getting pureed into a velvety smooth pale green soup packed with tons of flavor.

The soup on its own is excellent, but the real pièce de résistance is the small orb of poached egg dropped into the center of the soup releasing its rich, runny yolk when pierced with a spoon. It makes a lovely light lunch, and would be even more satisfying when accompanied by a hot and gooey grilled cheese (because why not).

Asparagus and Leek Soup with Poached Egg
Makes 8 servings
(From Soup Swap)

2 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 large leek
7 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken broth)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (I used scallions)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 scallions, trimmed, white and green sections very thinly sliced
1 egg per serving, preferably organic

Cut about 2 inches off the tough root ends of each asparagus spear; reserve the remaining asparagus. Trim off the dark green section of the leek and coarsely chop. Halve the pale green and white section lengthwise, rinse under cold water, and pat dry; reserve.

In a medium saucepan, combine the tough asparagus ends and the dark green leek pieces. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the tips off the top of the remaining asparagus spears and set aside. Cut the middle sections crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Cut the pale green and white section of the leek crosswise into thin pieces.

In a large stockpot over low heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the remaining leek pieces and the chives, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces from the middle of the stalks and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the wine, and bring to a boil.

Strain the stock from the medium saucepan into the large stockpot (discarding the tough asparagus stems and dark green leek pieces) and return to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Using a food processor or blender and working in batches or using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallions and cook for 4 minutes, or until they begin to turn a rich golden brown. Add the asparagus tips and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the asparagus tips are almost tender.

Bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pot, one at a time, and simmer for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the eggs, one at a time, to paper towels to drain. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter or a small sharp knife, cut around each egg white to create a small, perfect circle with just a bit of white.

Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls and, using a flat spatula, carefully place a poached egg in the center of each. Sprinkle with some asparagus-tip topping around the egg, avoiding the yolk, and serve.

*Note* I actually halved the recipe when I made it, and it turned out great!


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