It was more a coincidence when my taste buds made the acquaintance with white asparagus in combination with vanilla the first time around. A very pleasant encounter I might add. Which in fact got me to deliberately choose it a second time leaving me with lots of ideas, and a strong mental note: Must try flavoring white asparagus with vanilla.
Like many of my ad-hoc culinary ideas it had to be put on hold for a little while and thus was doomed to vanish in the deepest convolutions of my brain. Until last week. And despite being currently busier than ever (wow, I must do sound like a broken record) finishing my 216 pages of deliciousness, I just have to share this recipe. Simply, because it is the silkiest soup delight you can imagine. With vanilla. Serious business. I know ;)
Add the water in a large pot, together with the asparagus peel. Bring to a boil and let sinmmer over moderate heat for about 15 minutes, then strain through a sieve. Pour the broth back into the pot, bring to a boil again and add a teaspoon of butter, a generous pinch of salt, the sugar, the scraped out seeds of a vanilla bean (including the bean) and the roughly cut asparagus stalks (about 3 cm/1 inch). Let simmer for 15 minutes or until the asparagus becomes soft enough to be easily mashed with a fork, then strain again, keeping both broth and asparagus (discard the vanilla bean) for further use.
In a pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter until it starts to foam, then add the flour at once, mixing well with a whisk until smooth. Add the asparagus broth, about one cup at a time. Whisk constantly and vigorously to avoid any lumps until all of the broth is well incorporated, then add the cooked asparagus pieces and put the soup back to a simmer.
Puree the soup with a handheld blender until really smooth, then add the heavy cream and season to taste with sea salt, a little freshly ground nutmeg and white pepper.
This step is optional: Beat the egg yolk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cream, then whisk it in your soup. (At this point the soup is not allowed to boil anymore, otherwise the egg yolk will curdle!) The soup tasted perfectly fine without the egg yolk, but I think it provides an extra velvety mouthfeel and a more complex taste – decide for yourself.
Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan, sauté the sliced ham shortly (bacon and pancetta would also be nice instead) and garnish the soup with it. Enjoy!
Asparagus vanilla soup
Recipe Source: own creation
Prep/cooking time: about 45 min.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1 l water
the peel of 500 g white asparagus (organic)
5 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp sugar
200 g white asparagus, peeled
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
100 g heavy cream (plus 1 or 2 tbsp extra)
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg yolk (optional)
3-4 slices of Serrano ham (substitute with bacon or pancetta)