Monday, April 4, 2011

Volare


It is highly unlikely (and somewhat of an impossibility) that I would be serving volare for dinner. But when I told Andy that I was making Asparagus Velouté for dinner, he heard “volare.” Cue the laughter and mocking. He patiently waited for me to finish my reenactments (said in a sing-song voice of course: “I’m making Asparagus Volare for dinner tonight…doesn’t that sound good? Why don’t you invite Dean Martin and the rest of the Rat Pack over?”). He then muttered something about not being able to talk around me without it ending up in my blog…a hazard of being the food blogger’s husband, I suppose. But hey, at least he’s well fed…that counts for something, right?

Back to the volare velouté…asparagus season is finally here, and I happily bought two bunches at the farmer’s market recently with soup in mind. Creamy, pureed soups are a favorite in this house, and these bunches of thin, green asparagus were destined to become just that. Seasonal produce is always a hot topic on food blogs, and within days of each other I read Fun and Fearless in Beantown’s post about Asparagus Velouté and Design Wine and Dine’s post on Asparagus Spinach Soup…both looked fantastic. I had never tried a velouté before and was inspired to finally attempt it. After doing some research, I learned that velouté is a thickening of stock with a white roux. Going in, I was a little nervous because I read several times that if you don’t do this properly, you end up with a bowl of gooey and pasty mess. I was hoping to avoid this. The goal is a creamy, silky soup. Now maybe my version is not 100% technically accurate, but I was quite pleased with the results.


Asparagus Velouté

2 bunches of asparagus, ends trimmed (my yield was about 1 pound)
1 cup chopped leeks
1/2 cup sliced fennel
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
24 ounces vegetable broth (plus more for thinning, if desired)
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the asparagus until tender. Transfer to a water bath, then into the food processor when cool. Pulse until asparagus is pureed. Reserve.

In another large pot over medium heat, add butter, fennel and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until soft being careful not to let the butter burn. When the vegetables are cooked, add the flour, whisking into the butter. Continue cooking and whisking for about 10 minutes so a white roux is formed (you don’t want a dark roux). Slowly whisk in the vegetable broth. (At first, the mixture will seem to have gone terribly wrong, but smoothes out once all the broth is added.) Let this mixture thicken for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the asparagus into the broth mixture and stir to incorporate. Pass the entire contents of the pot through a food mill (I used the medium disk) and return to heat. Whisk in heavy cream, and season with salt and pepper. Reheat for a few minutes.

(This is a fairly thick soup. I added another 1/4 – 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to thin it out. Adjust to desired consistency by adding more broth.)


Success! I didn’t end up with a floury-tasting bowl of goop. The velouté was creamy and smooth, but still had a good amount of texture since it was run through the food mill. Asparagus is definitely the star here, with just hints of fennel and onion flavors. We ate this as our main course…a huge bowl with toasted baguette to dip into the velouté. Since it is such a rich soup, it was more than enough, but I think next time I would serve it as a small first course. We discovered that the olive oil brushed on the bread was a spectacular pairing with this dish, and in the future I would drizzle the bowl with olive oil instead of cream.


And yes, I think Dean would have approved. Cue the singing (and more laughing): “Volare, oh oh…Cantare, oh oh oh…”



(The winner of my HSN gift card giveaway, picked by Random.org was Susi from Susi's Kochen Und Backen Adventures. Congrats Susi!)

31 comments:

  1. Hooray for asparagus season! Your soup is so pretty, I should make a pot of this once I finish off the soup I made this weekend.

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  2. Oh, good job on the volare ;-) It looks absolutely splendid. I, too, love that it's asparagus season! Do check out my asparagus pesto, it's to die for! http://bit.ly/hWKvRY Hooray for springtime being here!

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  3. Ha! Yes, that is an occupational hazard of being married to a food blogger :) This looks sooo creamy and satisfying!!

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  4. Woo hoo! This looks incredible! I only recently came in contact with my first veloute, at a soup contest. It was lobster veloute and I fell in love! Well done :)

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  5. This is a wonderful way to enjoy asparagus. I'd imagine this would be just as good chilled.

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  6. Certainly doesn't look like a pasty mess to me. I think you must have got it spot on!

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  7. It's not asparagus season here yet, but I can drool over your veloute. It's gorgeous, and you did it perfectly, or it would like it does. Lovely presentation.

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  8. I'm so excited that my blog post inspired this dish! This looks great!

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  9. Ok I will have to admit that I love asparagus... However the thought of it as a soup does not thrill me. With that being said I love your courage in making this and I and going to give it a try. Thank you for posting...

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  10. I made an asparagus soup last year for Easter. I thought my mother was going to cry. She loves soup and it isn't something that I historically have been interested in. I think she realized my tastes have evolved and figured there ws hope for me!

    Jason

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  11. this looks delicious yummy looking soup

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  12. Karen, thanks again for the gift card :o)
    Your asparagus velouté looks incredibly delicious and elegant! I especially love the combination with the leek and fennel. This would make a wonderful first course for Easter! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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  13. Your seoup looks lovely. I make a slightly lighter version (sans le roux), and I love that too - (recipe on my site). I agree Asparagus is a lovely springtime soup, easy to make and always delicious - your plate looks really nice with the touch of cream. Domenico Modugno would have been proud of his soup! The original song was called nel blu dipinto di blu ... you can surprise the hubby with this. Dean Martin's version came much later ... the original by Modugno won a grammy in 1958!

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  14. I love that it is asparagus season! Your asparagus velouté looks so creamy and delicious!

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  15. I have to get lots of asparagus for this soup!!! Thank you for sharing this beautiful soup recipe!

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  16. This soup looks delicious, especially in a cold day like this one we have today in Cyprus. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. mmm, looks so bright and flavorful! i love the presentation here, i don't think i could re-create that perfect spiral.:)

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  18. This looks like the most perfect spring time soup! I love asparagus and they are coming into season in Israel now, bookmarking this!

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  19. Asparagus season is my favorite time of the year! I pick the green stuff up whenever I see it! Your soup is beautiful!!! And yes...our men need to watch what they say... LOL!

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  20. What can I say except WOW! Your photos are perfection and I am trying to imagine the taste of fennel in your asparagus. Sounds wonderful.
    Rita

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  21. Oh...I love asparagus. It's just too bad that where I live it's so expensive.

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  22. I can't wait for asparagus season! It should be getting plentiful any time now. Love this soup! :)

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  23. It's not here yet, but I'm anxiously waiting! And asparagus accompanied by two of my new favorite veggies- leeks and fennel! Heavenly! Great job on the volar..I mean veloute!!

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  24. Volare..o..o..that song was in my mind all day, as was the beautiful asparagus soup!

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  25. We are right around the corner from Asparagus season around here and it's still freezing and raining so soup is just the thing. Can't wait to try!

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  26. This looks great! I'm a HUGE fan of asparagus. I could eat it every day and be happy as a clam.

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  27. love this time of the year when asparagus is not priced at $3.99 or more. so many asparagus dishes waiting to be made.
    your asparagus velouté looks incredibly delicious and elegant
    thanks for sharing

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  28. Lovely! I haven't made asparagus soup yet or tried it but I love asparagus and this sounds delicious.

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