Velvety smooth, Spring Green Fresh Asparagus Velouté is a blissfully welcomed rite of spring. Luxurious and creamy, the delicate flavor of asparagus is gloriously sublime.
One of the beauties of this Spring Green Fresh Asparagus Velouté is its wonderfully smooth and velvety texture. One taste and you will understand the name. The term velouté is from the French adjective al form of velour, meaning velvet. This soup is, if anything, velvety.
The base of a velouté soup consists of velouté sauce and a puree of the main ingredient. A velouté sauce is a light stock-based sauce thickened with a roux of butter and flour and is one of the five French “mother sauces” from which many classic sauces are derived. A velouté is sometimes thickened with a liaison, a mixture of egg yolks and cream. A light stock is one in which the bones have not been previously roasted.
Asparagus Velouté begins with a base of a light stock or vegetable broth if a vegetarian version is preferred. A light stock is made of bones that have not been roasted and browned. The white, fibrous ends of the asparagus spears are cut off and simmered with the stock or broth to extract the maximum flavor. Making a homemade stock is simple and adds to the irresistibly smooth mouthfeel of the velouté .
For the most beautiful, vibrant, Spring Green color, the asparagus spears are cooked separately from the base of the velouté. Set up a steamer above the pot of simmering broth and steam the spears, catching any flavor lost in the cooking process. Steam the asparagus until floppy then submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green color.
Alternatively, the asparagus can be blanched in boiling water (or even the broth if you can fish them out) until soft and then drained (or lifted out) and submerged in the ice bath.
Cut off and reserve the most attractive tips before steaming if you would like to use them as a garnish for the Asparagus Velouté.
To finish the base, leeks are sautéed in butter until very soft but not brown. Sprinkle with flour and cook for a minute. The drained stock or broth is whisked in and brought to a simmer so that it can thicken slightly.
After testing and retesting this recipe countless times, I prefer to use leeks in the base because their mild flavor will not overpower the delicate flavor of the asparagus, allowing it to shine through. They also add to the beautiful color of the Asparagus Velouté.
The base is processed in the blender with the whole, steamed asparagus spears. A small amount of crème fraiche or sour cream is added. Equally delicious, velouté is often finished with heavy whipping cream or a liaison, a mixture of egg yolks and cream. However, after testing, I prefer the lighter, fresher flavor and slight tang of crème fraiche or sour cream, particularly in the spring.
Garnish the Asparagus Velouté with buttered asparagus tips, drizzles of whipping cream, and chive oil. The chive oil adds a fresh, grassy flavor, perfect for spring!
Spring Green Fresh Asparagus Velouté
For the broth:
- chicken bones or a chicken carcass left over from a roast chicken
- 1 liter water (4 cups)
- 1 onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 bouillon cube
For a vegetarian version use vegetable broth
For the chive oil:
- 2 bunches chives (approximately 1.4oz, 40g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup flavorless vegetable oil such as canola (3.5oz, 99g)
To finish the base:
- 3 tablespoons butter (1.5oz, 43g)
- 1 leek (approximately 8oz, 227g)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (.3oz, 8.5g)
- 1 bunch of asparagus (approximately 1lb, 454g)
- 4 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream (1.9oz, 55g)
- salt as needed
To make the broth:
- Put enough chicken bones in a medium saucepan, along with onion and celery, that can be covered with 1 liter of water.
- Trim the white, fibrous ends off of the asparagus spears and add to stock.
- Simmer for 3 hours or pressure cook for about 1 hour.
- Strain and measure 2 cups (500ml) of broth, adding water if necessary.
To make the Chive Oil:
- Blanch the chives in boiling, salted water for 1 minute.
- Remove from water and immediately put into an ice bath to preserve the vibrant color.
- Dry thoroughly.
- In a blender, process blanched chives with vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour into a cheesecloth lined strainer which is set over a bowl and let strain for 2 hours. Do not squeeze the cheesecloth, just let it slowly drip.
To finish the base:
- Thinly slice the leek and wash well to remove all of the sand.
- Sauté the sliced leek in 3 tablespoons butter in a covered pan until very soft but not turning brown at all. Cover the pan so the leeks sweat and soften without coloring.
- Sprinkle flour on top and cook, stirring, for about one minute.
- Add the 2 cups (500ml) strained stock or vegetable broth, whisking, until it simmers and thickens slightly. Let simmer on low 2-3 minutes.
- Trim the tips of the most attractive spears if you would like to use them as a garnish and set aside.
- Set up a steamer over the pan of simmering stock or vegetable broth and steam the asparagus spears for about 8 minutes, until floppy.
- Immediately submerge the asparagus in ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the bright color. Drain.
To finish the velouté:
- Combine the base and the steamed asparagus spears in a blender and process for a few minutes until very smooth.
- Put the crème fraiche or sour cream in a bowl. Add ½ cup of the soup puree and mix to combine.
- Add the crème fraiche mixture to the blender and process to combine.
- Salt carefully to taste. Adding salt little by little and tasting after each addition.
- Garnish with asparagus tips, drizzles of whipping cream, and chive oil.
If reheating the soup, reheat gently and do not bring to a boil.
For a more vibrant green color, one handful of spinach that has been blanched, put in the ice water bath, and dried, can be added to the blender with the base and the asparagus. This gives a brighter shade of green and an earthier, grassier flavor. Both versions are delicious, but I personally prefer the pure, delicate taste of the Asparagus Velouté without it.
After much testing, this method of preparing Asparagus Velouté yields the perfect flavor while retaining vibrant color. There are times, however, when I want to eat a delicious Asparagus Velouté with as little effort as possible. While these shortcuts will yield a fabulous tasting soup, the color will not be as vibrant.
*A store bought broth can be used. You can simmer the white, fibrous ends in the broth or this step can be skipped all together.
*Instead of steaming or blanching the asparagus then submerging in a ice water bath, the asparagus can be sliced thin and sautéed with the leeks and prepared with the base. Process as usual in the blender.
*The Asparagus Velouté is delicious without the Chive Oil or any garnish.
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