It’s Monday . . . but not just any Monday; it’s Meatless Monday. Sometimes I dread this day of the week, but not for the reason which you might think. It’s because, quite honestly, I’m not very proactive when it comes to planning my meals. I don’t set a menu days in advance; the madness typically unfolds on the day of cooking and sometimes that necessitates a quick trip to the store for ingredients outside the staples.
I landed on this week’s Meatless Monday recipe from greed borne of a craving: for some odd reason, I was really wanting asparagus. This recipe is an amalgamation of sorts: it’s the culmination of several recipes that I’ve read on the web plus the addition of a couple of components that I thought would really make this recipe pop. I initially called this recipe a soup before I actually made it . . . and then, after all the ingredients came together I realized that, despite the absence of any seafood whatsoever, it was more bisque-like in texture than soup, hence the name Creamy Asparagus Bisque. If you decide to make this, you may be tempted to add a side salad along with it. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t necessarily need to do that; this thick and rich bisque is a hearty standalone meal all by itself! Just add a couple of slices of crusty bread and you’re good to go … perfect for a cold winter day and totally acceptable in any polar vortex. Bon appetit!
Creamy Asparagus Bisque
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds fresh asparagus
- 4 cups vegetable stock, plus more for thinning if necessary
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1/2 cup minced leeks, white parts only
- 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 small potato, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1 cup baby spinach, stems removed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
Cut off the tips of the asparagus (about 1 inch or so) and reserve. Next, cut the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve. Cut the remaining stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
Bring the vegetable stock to a boil over medium heat. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the stems with a slotted spoon from the stock and discard, reserving the stock. Add the asparagus tips to the stock and blanch until tender, roughly 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove asparagus tips with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Reserve the stock.
In a pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When butter turns foamy, add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender (roughly 3 – 4 minutes). Next, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the chopped asparagus stalks (NOT the tips), cubed potato, salt & pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus and potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Add the spinach and mix in until just wilted. Remove from heat.
With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the bisque until at the desired consistency. Return the bisque to the pot over medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips. Cook and stir until warmed through (about 3 minutes). If consistency is too thick, add more vegetable stock until desired thinness. Ladle bisque into bowls, top with Parmesan cheese and serve.