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.
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!)