This is our Grand Finale: Asparagus Soup, garnished with fried leeks, a seared scallop, blanched asparagus tips, and a drizzle of white truffle oil. We followed the Create Your Own Creamy Vegetable Soup formula, with a few minor changes.
We have participated in a few of Chef Martin Woesle’s Sunday cooking classes at Mille Fleur and recently learned his recipe for Green Asparagus Soup with Trout Mousse Timbale. Before I made this soup tonight, I pulled out his recipe. In order to retain the bright green color of green vegetable soups (asparagus, broccoli, spinach, watercress, etc.), he advises to cook the soup for a very short time. If preparing the soup in advance, he advises to chill it in ice water right after it’s made, rather than keeping it warm on the stove for extended periods. For this asparagus soup, I followed Chef Martin’s method of blanching the asparagus tips in salt water for about a minute and then chilling them in ice water (the tips are used as garnish). After sautéing onions and leeks in butter, I added the asparagus stalks and a little flour. I then added about half the chicken broth, brought that to a quick boil, and added the remaining chicken broth, and brought that to a boil. I used a touch of white wine and a pinch of saffron. I blended the soup in the blender, strained it through a fine sieve, returned it to the pan, and added the heavy cream and squeeze of lemon juice. For garnish, I used fried leeks, a seared scallop, asparagus tips, and a few drops of white truffle oil. It was delicious.
This Challenge has been the highlight of the past six weeks. With so many cooking magazines, cook books and recipes available on various web sites, I often get overwhelmed with trying to decide what to cook next. Although I peruse through Fine Cooking when it first arrives in the mail, I’m often guilty of tossing it into the “cooking magazine basket” and then forgetting about the recipes I wanted to try. This Challenge was very educational and expanded our culinary horizons. We really loved reading the Issue cover to cover, backwards and forwards, and taking our time in shopping, preparing, photographing, and commenting on each dish. The best part of the Challenge has been the camaraderie and we appreciate all of the comments on our posts. We are especially looking forward to getting together with Kaity and Steve, also in San Diego, and hope Sally and Stogie will fly out from Boston for dinner one of these days!
Our favorites of this Issue: Buttermilk Cake with Spiced Vanilla Icing, Roasted Potato and Mushroom Salad with Mascarpone, Pan-Roasted Chicken with Orange-Brandy Sauce, Orange & Brown Butter Tart. and Sautéed Escarole. Not so much: Red Cooked Tofu, Chicken Sauté, and Turkey Reuben. I probably won’t tackle the three-day Croissants ever again, but I do love the Weekend Project feature. We look forward to more challenging and gourmet recipes, but it's good to have a few traditional and Make-it-Tonight recipes.
Thank you Fine Cooking, and fellow chefs. Until the next challenge,
Denise & John