I first created this soup using green garlic (posted) but have changed it up a bit for this contest -- the recipe calls for a good fruity olive oil to drizzle over top -- but after my acquisition of a nice little bottle of truffle oil -- I have been using that and as a very famous chef whose name starts with an "E" would say -- it kicks it up a notch! Both ways is good, though. —coffeefoodwrite
For the Asparagus Soup:
1 bunch asparagus (about 28 spears)
2 cloves garlic -- crushed
Fresh thyme (9 sprigs plus more for garnish)
Parmesan Croutons (see recipe below)
1 cup chicken stock (homemade or I like Wolfgang Puck’s organic)
Wash, dry and cut off thick bottom stems of asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper, distribute oil evenly and thoroughly throughout spears using either your hands or tongs and roast in 425 degree oven for about 9 minutes, turning/tossing once (until bright green and tender).
Sauté garlic on low with a sprinkling of sea salt in a little olive oil until tender.
Sauté roasted asparagus in a little olive oil to heat through and soften further (but make sure still bright green). (Note: You do this because the roasting of the asparagus adds an extra layer of flavor, but if you leave them in the oven long enough to soften them up, then ends become dark and the color dims...)
In a blender add asparagus, garlic and oils from both pans and chicken stock. Blend on high until thick and somewhat smooth.
Pour into saucepan over low to med-low heat (make sure it just gently warms through and does not boil so that you do not lose color – you want a bright green, vibrant soup).
Chop thyme and add to soup along with the white wine. Stir and let slowly warm through. Adjust salt and pepper as necessary.
Meanwhile make croutons (below)
Ladle into bowls, garnish with a sprig of thyme, a drizzle of your very best (fruity) olive oil and the parmesan croutons. Enjoy!
Note: Healthy Version: Omit croutons...
Additional Note: This is good with a little truffle oil drizzled instead as well – if you like that sort of thing...
For the Parmesan Croutons:
Cut bread in half lengthwise and then cut into about 1 inch squares.
Melt olive oil and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Turn heat up to medium high, add bread squares, generously sprinkle with salt and pepper (you want them to be a little more salty than usual to counter the mild subtle earthy flavor of the soup) and brown over medium high until lightly browned.
Turn heat down to medium sprinkle have the cheese over the croutons, let brown, turn over, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese; let brown and then immediately remove to a plate to cool. (Cheese tends to cook quickly and burn so make sure you take them off right away after they are toasty-brown).