One year for halloween, my grandmother dressed as a piece of broccoli. It was spectacular. She wore a green sweatsuit, painted her face green, and used temporary colored hair spray to tint her then gray hair a celery green color. She was at the time working as an aid for the local elementary school, and her students called her Mrs. Broccoli. I was a sullen teenager when this occurred and didn't find the whole thing as amusing as I do now. I can only imagine the joy the kids in her class had when the saw her walk into school that morning.
I like to think that I inherited the cooking gene from my grandma. She was a great cook. She very rarely used recipes, following her instincts instead. In fact, when we look through her old recipes they are often scribbles of a list of ingredients with partial instructions and very few exact measurements. Anytime I cook broccoli, asparagus, or spinach; anything with a vibrant green color, I can't help but be reminded of "Mrs. Broccoli". This recipe is a refined version of a homey, comforting soup that lends itself well to a variety of vegetables. I'm sure if we dug through my grandmother's scribbled recipes, we'd find a similar list of ingredients for a cream of vegetable soup.
In a small saucepan, heat a tablespoon of unsalted butter. Finely mince two shallots and two cloves of garlic. Sauté over medium heat until softened and starting to brown. Trim the woody ends from 1 bunch (about a pound) of asparagus. Reserve two pieces for garnish, and chop remaining asparagus into inch long pieces. Sauté the asparagus for a few minutes and add 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer asparagus until tender, about 15 minutes.
Pour stock and vegetables into a blender and puree until smooth. I use a Vitamix in my kitchen and it is by far one of the best investments I've made in a kitchen gadget. Yes, they are a bit pricey, but it is the last blender you will ever buy. After burning through three or four mid range blenders, trying to find something that wouldn't leave ice chunks in my smoothies, I splurged on a Vitamix. They are awesome. Super smooth frozen drinks, easy to use, and fast. When blending anything hot, make sure to remove the center portion of your blender lid. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and blend. Hot liquids expand when blending and without this vent you could end up with really hot asparagus soup all over your kitchen.
Pass pureed soup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids and fibrous matter that will make the soup grainy. We're looking for a silky smooth consistency so don't skip this step! If you don't have a fine mesh sieve, cheese cloth would work just as well.
Return the now smooth asparagus puree to a clean saucepan and add 1 cup of heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer over low heat until hot all the way through. Be careful not to bring the soup to a boil or the cream may curdle.
While soup is heating, melt two tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet. Rinse scallops and remove any abductor muscles that are remaining. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. When butter is hot and just beginning to brown, add scallops. Cook until browned on both sides and just translucent in the middle, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a small plate. In remaining butter, saute reserved asparagus over medium high heat until starting to brown.
Ladle soup into a shallow bowl and divide scallops evenly. Garnish with asparagus. Serve alongside a salad for a light dinner.
Cream of Asparagus Soup with Seared ScallopsBy Land of Noms, December 14, 2014
- 3 tablespoons of butter, divided
- 2 shallots, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bunch (about 1 pound) of asparagus
- 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 6 medium sized sea scallops
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter
- Add shallot and garlic and saute until softened and starting to brown
- Trim woody ends from asparagus and reserve two pieces for garnish; cut remaining asparagus into inch long pieces and add to pot
- Saute asparagus a few minutes, add 1 cup of stock and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes
- Remove from heat and pour stock and vegetables into a blender
- With center of lid removed and covered with a clean kitchen towel to vent, puree until smooth
- Pass asparagus puree through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth to remove any solids and return to a clean saucepan
- Add 1 cup of heavy cream and heat over low to medium low heat until hot all the way through
- While soup is heating, melt remaining butter in a medium skillet
- Rinse and dry scallops, removing any abductor muscles, season with salt and pepper on both sides
- Add scallops to pan when butter is just starting to brown, cook on each side 2-3 minutes or until browned and center is barely translucent; remove to a small plate
- Add reserved asparagus to the pan and saute over medium high heat until starting to brown
- Ladle soup into shallow bowls and divide scallops evenly; top with sauteed asparagus garnish
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