White Asparagus Soup with Saffron & Crayfish
This soup is decadent and rich without having any cream at all! White aspargus makes for the most luxurious of soups, but add saffron to anything and it feels even more luxe.
White Asparagus Soup with Saffron
500 g white asparagus
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 large shallots - julienned
1 stock of basil 4 g (with about 6 leaves on it)
1 handful of fresh parsley with stocks on
1/3 of a cup boiling water
the asparagus peels & trimmings (335 g in total after trimming & peeling)
80 g chopped onion
1 medium garlic clove (2 g) - cut in half lengthwise
0.75 saffron frons (about two pinches)
400 ml boiling water (20 ml apart)
2 T dry white wine
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter
pinch of lemon zest
100 g cooked crayfish (can substitute shrimp- but then cut them in pieces)
1 T julienned basil
1 t chopped parsley
s&p as necessary
First thing first, the asparagus needs to be trimmed and peeled. You can snap one to see where it breaks and then make the break look nice and clean by cutting though it afterwards for a clean edge. Then line up all of the rest and cut them the same length. Roughly chop the trimmed bottoms and then save them in a bowl. Peel the asparagus twice. White asparagus have 2 sets of skin and you have to peel them both or you cannot easily cut through them once cooked. Whenever I peel, I do it at least 2 times and then rotate to another part, peel that spot twice and keep on going. Roughly chop the skins and add them to the bowl with the bottoms.
For the soup, set a small pot with a good sealing lid on the stove on medium heat and add the onion. Sweat it for a couple of minutes, you do not want this to brown too quickly so be careful with the heat. Add the garlic cut side down and let it cook with the lid on low for 5 minutes, stirring about a couple of times. Once the onions have a nice light golden brown color (about 10 minutes in total) then turn up the heat to medium again and add the peels and bottoms of the asparagus once sizzling. Cook for another 5 minutes stirring regularly. Place the saffron in a small coffee cup and add 20 ml of the 400 ml boiling water. This will help extract the color. Add the white wine to the soup pot and let it cook till it's almost evaporated. Add some salt & pepper and the rest of the boiling water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the bottoms are soft when poked with the tip of a knife (20-30 minutes). Gently place all of the soup ingredients into a blender and blend slowly, gaining speed over a 30 second period of time. AND, make sure to remove the chimney stopper on the lid of the blender, you need the heat to be able to escape or it could explode form the pressure. Use a fine strainer to push or stir the soup though and throw away the fibers. Add the lemon zest and season to taste as necessary. Add to a clean pot and cover to keep warm.
While the soup is simmering you can begin cooking your whole asparagus. But, to ensure no over-cooked asparagus, you can also start it after the soup is blended.
For the asparagus, in a heavy-bottomed pan with a good sealing lid add the butter and olive oil and place on medium to medium-high heat. Add the shallots and stir around letting them soften and wilt. After a few minutes, lower the heat to a low/medium-low and cook for a couple of minutes until nice and soft in texture with the lid on. Add the stem of basil and the small handful of parsley to the pan. Add the asparagus and cook a few minutes with the lid on. Then add 1/3 of a cup of boiling water, season with s&p and cover. Cook this on a low/medium-low for as long as it takes till poked with the tip of a knife and they are soft. The water shouldn't completely evaporate. Add a T of water at a time if necessary. If the soup is very close to finishing, I often turn the asparagus pan off and leave it to finish cooking with the lid on. Save these for garnish.
Warm everything back up and evenly pour the soup between two bowls. First, evenly lay the asparagus pieces (without the shallots-as best as possible) on top of the soup. Now, toss the cray fish into the asparagus pan, roll around in the pan with the shallots to warm it up and add the julienned basil and chopped parsley. Season as necessary, then lay the crayfish mix per bowl on top of the asparagus. Enjoy!
Tip: you can of course cut the white asparagus in small pieces adn then you only need a spoon to eat it. If left whole, of course it will require a knife & fork.