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Author Notes: One of the most valuable lessons my mother ever taught me in the kitchen was to add a splash of fortified wine -- sherry, brandy, Cognac -- whenever I'm making a vegetable soup. With just the right amount, you get an extra layer of flavor without actually making the soup taste boozy. While I favor sherry for richer soups like pumpkin or corn chowder, I like Cognac for a light spring purée like the asparagus soup below. A hit of fresh tarragon plays up the grassy nature of the asparagus, and a bit of Greek yogurt lends creaminess without muffling the other components. —Merrill Stubbs
Serves: 4 as a starter
tablespoon safflower oil
large scallions, thinly sliced into half-moons
pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
teaspoon kosher salt
Splash of Cognac (sherry or brandy will do)
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
cups chicken stock or water
teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
cup Greek yogurt, plus more for serving
- Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook for a minute to soften slightly. Turn up the heat to medium high, add the asparagus and salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, for a minute or two, until the asparagus turns a vibrant green.
- Add the Cognac or sherry or whatever you're using, the nutmeg and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Cook for another thirty seconds and then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the asparagus is just tender when pierced with a knife, another 3 or 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the tarragon.
- Carefully purée the hot soup in two batches using a blender and adding half of the yogurt to each batch. Put the puréed soup through a medium-fine strainer to get rid of any fibrous bits. Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if necessary. To reheat, bring the soup to just below a simmer over medium heat, ladle into individual bowls and add a dollop of yogurt to each.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!