A warming, tasteful soup with beet puree. By: Bonny Reichert
Recipe: Asparagus Soup with Beet Purée and Crème Fraîche–which takes time to prepare if you can’t get it locally.
Roasting the asparagus before turning it into the soup concentrates and develops its flavour, and the beet purée adds complexity and a rich hit of colour. Crème fraîche is a great gourmet flourish, but you can use a bit of sour cream instead.
2 large beets, cut into quarters
11⁄2 cups water (375 mL)
1 tbsp sugar (15 mL)
1 tsp salt (5 mL)
1⁄2 cup whipping cream (125 mL)
1 tbsp buttermilk (15 mL)
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off (about 1 1⁄2 lbs/750 g)
3 tbsp olive oil (45 mL)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced (you can skip it)
1⁄2 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock, store bought or homemade (500 mL) (or veg broth)
11⁄2 cups water (375 mL)
2 tbsp heavy cream (30 mL)
Sour cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Place beet pieces in the middle of a large sheet of foil. Bring edges of foil together to form a pouch. Place on a baking sheet and roast beets until fork-tender, about 50 minutes.
2. When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins and chop coarsely. Place in a medium saucepan along with water, sugar and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, until liquid is dark red and beets are very tender, 30-40 minutes. Purée with a stand or immersion blender and set aside.
3. To make crème fraîche, place whipping cream in a glass jar and stir in buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature for 8-24 hours or until thickened. Refrigerate until needed.
4. To make soup, preheat oven to 400F (200C). Lay asparagus spears on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with 1 1⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and roast until fragrant and light brown, about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and sauté, stirring, until onion becomes translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for a 1-2 minutes. Cut roasted asparagus spears into 2-in.- (5-cm-) long pieces and add to saucepan. Pour in stock and water and simmer soup until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
6. Purée soup with a stand or immersion blender until very smooth. Reheat, stir in heavy cream and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
7. Ladle soup into bowls and add a spoonful of beet purée to the centre of each bowl. Drag a butter knife or skewer through beet purée in a
circular motion to create a swirl. Garnish with a little crème fraîche (or sour cream).