Sunday, April 30, 2017

Asparagus Bisque with Fresh Dill: A Taste of Spring for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's been a really rainy, gray weekend for  being on the cusp of May. I even had socks and a light blanket on last night. If the weather isn't quite up to springtime level where you are, try making a pot of this Asparagus Bisque with Fresh Dill. Besides the asparagus and dill, it's full of leeks, fennel, and lemon in a flavor combination that positively sings of spring.

It's also from my "soup bible"--Love Soup by Anna Thomas. I adore this classic soup cookbook and I can always find a bit of soupish inspiration or a recipe whenever I open its cover. In this case I had some local leeks and asparagus was on sale, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. I added a little sheep's milk feta on top, just to enhance all of that wonderful flavor.

Anna Thomas says, "This soup came about from a moment of spring bounty. I was excited about the asparagus and fresh dill at the farmers market that I came home with too much of both, and an asparagus festival ensued. In most of my soups I use onions, but in this one I use only leeks and fennel to support the asparagus , along with some lemon zest and all that fresh dill. It has a pure spring flavor, and although I add only a tiny amount of cream, the texture is velvety and luxurious.

Asparagus Bisque
From Love Soup by Anna Thomas
(Serves 6)

1 1/4 lbs. green asparagus
2 medium leeks
1 large fennel bulb
zest and juice of one lemon (I used another 1/2 of juice) 
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp arborio rice
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 to 2 1/2 cups light vegetable broth
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill, plus more to taste
white pepper
cayenne to taste
2-3 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
shaved asparagus, extra fresh dill, and feta cheese to garnish, optional

Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, thinly peel the bottom 2 or 3 inches of the asparagus stalks, then snap off the toughest bits at the bottoms (peeling the bottoms first allows you to keep much more of the stalk.) Cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces; you should have about 4 cups.

Wash the leeks and chop the white and light green parts only. Trim, wash, and chop the fennel bulb. Grate the zest of the lemon, making sure to get only the yellow and none of the white pith.

Melt the butter in a large skillet or soup pot and cook the leeks over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are soft and begin to take on a hint of color. Add the asparagus, fennel, lemon zest, rice, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. 
Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for about half an hour, or until all the vegetables are tender.

Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, the dill, and a pinch of each pepper and cayenne. Puree the soup in a blender, in batches, until it is perfectly smooth. (I usually use an immersion blender for pureed soups, but asparagus is fibrous, so you might want to use that blender in order to get it really smooth.) Add broth if the soup seems too thick. Return the pureed soup to a clean pot and stir in a couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, more if you like.

Bring the soup back to a simmer, taste it ,and season with tiny amounts of pepper, and more salt if needed. Stir in the cream if you wish.

Notes/Results: It helps that I love every ingredient in this soup but I found the combination absolutely delicious. Both the asparagus and dill flavor come through but the lemon, fennel and leeks are there in the background and the cayenne and white pepper give it the barest hint of heat. I often prefer brothy soups to pureed ones, but this one is so silky--it is just the right texture. I did add the cream but you could certainly omit it (the creamy aborio rice adds silkiness when blended) and use olive oil and have a vegan soup. Smooth, light, satisfying and very spring-like, perfect for a starter or a light lunch. I will happily make it again. 

We have some good friends and delicious dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Claudia of Honey From Rock shared this tempting Potato, Brussels Sprouts Salad and said, "The dressing was composed of mayonnaise, a bit of kefir and kefir cream cheese, blue cheese (just a bit), lemon juice and mustard. Each of the major players were so flavorful in themselves that no additional seasoning was needed. Just blended the dressing together, chunked up the potatoes and Brussels sprouts, chopped the kale finer, and added some capers. Gently tossed and topped with the eggs. Just so you know, the Creamed Kale was made with a bit of crisped up soppressata, as well as cream and the Aromatic Brussels sprouts had mustard seeds. It was a sooooo delicious and even elegant salad.  Really all you need for dinner. Well, maybe a glass of chilled white wine."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shares a salad she recently enjoyed an said, "This is a wonderfully filling grilled chicken salad I had at Beef O'Brady's restaurant in Tallahassee. I had set out to get pizza for lunch but couldn't quite get a car buying deal to move as smoothly as I (naively) thought it would. As the hours passed I revised my plan. Beef O'Brady's restaurant was the closest thing to the Tax Collector's Office. So guess what...... It was a good lunch and I had Doug and Tristan with me so I had good company as well. The salad options were plentiful and I have to admit vacillating between a salad and a sandwich. The burgers looked good too but the healthy aspects and lightness of a salad appealed."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought healthy Anti-Cancer "Dump" Soup and said, "This simple light brothy soup is one of my favorites because it is fast and easy to make and is loaded with anti-cancer vegetables. The broth is warm and soothing, the vegetables are not overcooked, and it's full of healthy nutrients. It definitely feels like a big bowl of comfort soup, and it's probably a good immune booster as well. I feel really good when I eat this light healthy soup. This recipe is truly a dump soup. You can dump any vegetable you have in the soup pot before cooking. Obviously, I dumped cruciferous vegetables for their anti-cancer benefits."

Debra of Eliot's Eats made colorful Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta and said, "The pea salad was perfect for a spring dinner. The original recipe called for pea tendrils as well.  Add if you like (and if you can find them). The next time I make this, I will add a bit of mint.  I think that would complement the sweetness of the peas as well as the bite of the radish and spice of cumin."

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

1 comment:

  1. Deb,
    I can see why Anna Thomas called her soups- love soup. I am in love with the Asparagus Bisque- the asparagus, leeks, lemon, and fennel sound divine, and your beautiful photos make me want to dive right in! Thanks for sharing this one!


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