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
- 1/2 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 1/2 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.