Chilled Asparagus Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche
By Gregory Denton of MetroVino in Portland
“I really like making this soup for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s the perfect dish to eat during a hot summer night with family or friends. The creamy coolness on the palate is very well balanced by the tanginess of the lemon crème fraîche. The second reason is that it’s a great way to utilize the ends of the asparagus that would otherwise be too tough to eat and would go to waste. I enjoy eating this dish as a starter to a summer meal off the barbecue, such as any grilled seafood or meat and then accompanied by the grilled asparagus spears.” — Gregory Denton, MetroVino executive chef
Soup1 pound fresh asparagus
½ pound unsalted butter
1 clove of garlic, peeled
4 ounces chopped yellow onion
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water, plus more if necessary
1 pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 ounces spinach
1. Cut asparagus into ¼-inch coins from stem to tip. Keep tips whole and set aside. In a medium-to-large pot, melt butter slowly, and add the garlic and onions. Cook the onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the coins of asparagus and the kosher salt, and increase the heat so the asparagus starts to sauté. As soon as the asparagus turns bright green, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, if possible. Turn burner down to a medium heat. This mixture should have a wet sand consistency. Let this mixture cook for 30 to 45 seconds. Next add 1 cup of water and stir. The mixture will become thick. It is important to keep stirring or the flour will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. The mixture is ready for the cream when it has a potpie filling consistency. If it is thicker, just add more water. When it has reached the proper consistency, add the cream and continue to stir. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat.2. You will have to plan ahead for the next steps. You will need a blender, a fine strainer, such as a chinois, a ladle and an ice bath with a clean empty pan over the top of it. Start by ladling the soup into the blender. Only fill it ¾ full or it might spill out when you turn the blender on to purée it. Before you purée it, add a handful of spinach and some salt and pepper, to taste. Start the blender at a lower speed at first, then increase to a higher speed. Always keep a towel over the top of the blender so it does not spill. The soup should start to turn bright green. Stop the blender, and taste for seasoning; then strain. Strain the mixture into the pan that is over the ice bath. This will help the mixture cool down more quickly and keep it a vibrant green. Repeat this method until the soup is completely blended. When the soup is cool to the touch it is ready to serve or to be stored for up to 3 days in a refrigerator.
Lemon Crème Fraîche1 cup crème fraîche
* juice and zest of half a lemon
3. Buy your favorite crème fraîche from your local specialty grocer. If you cannot find it, you can substitute sour cream. Zest ½ a lemon with a micro-plane and juice it. Add both to the crème fraîche and mix well. Keep in refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the soup.
Garnish4 blanched asparagus tips (per person)
1 tablespoon lemon crème fraîche
1 teaspoon chives, sliced thinly
4. To blanch asparagus tips, boil 2 quarts of salted water, and add asparagus. Cook until they are bright green. Remove them from the water, and cool them in an ice and water bath. 5. To serve: Pour a 6-ounce serving of soup in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of the crème fraîche to the center of the bowl. Add the asparagus tips and chives on top of the crème fraîche.
Wine Suggestion2008 Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc
MetroVinoMetroVino, a restaurant, bar and retail wine shop located in Portland’s Pearl District, uses both an Enomatic™ wine system and a Perlage sparkling system. Owners Todd and Helena Steele have created a bar featuring 80-plus still and sparkling wines by the taste, glass or bottle, plus locally distilled and international spirits and local beers.
A European-inspired menu, featuring upscale rustic cuisine, highlights these extensive bar offerings. Executive Chef Gregory Denton prepares fresh, local ingredients simply and in season.
MetroVino is located at 1139 N.W. 11th Avenue, Portland. For more information or reservations, go to www.metrovinopdx.com or call 503-517-7778.