#MenuMonday: Soup’s On!

There’s something about this frigid weather that makes me want to cuddle up with a nice, warm bowl of soup.  As I’ve gotten older and more intentional, I’ve sought out soup recipes that not only include vegetables, but are also family-tested and approved (no small feat with picky eaters in the house). The first recipe that’s in my winter rotation is from Giada de Laurentiis, and I’ve served it both as a starter and a main course.

 

One note about ingredients that may seem exotic or unusual: please don’t let leeks, fresh basil, and goat cheese scare you if you don’t usually buy these ingredients or can’t find them easily in the store. I’ve found that if I can catch a stocker in the vegetable section of my supermarket, they are usually elated when I ask questions. They are professionals and truly enjoy sharing their knowledge (who doesn’t enjoy being valued for their expertise?), so please don’t hesitate to ask questions. While this recipe is fantastic as is, I have made many liberal substitutions over the years based on what I have at my house, curiosity, and sheer laziness. I’ve substituted green onions and white/yellow onions for the leeks, dried parsley for fresh, salted butter for unsalted, feta cheese for goat cheese, and all versions have turned out great!

 

One final note for kids: my kids love helping me make the “little cheese balls.”  In our house, these little balls are magical, and for some reason, they really distract my kids from their assertions that they do not like asparagus. Or leeks. Or anything green for that matter.

Asparagus Soup With Herbed Goat Cheese – Recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis, Serves 4-6

SONY DSC

Photo by Food Network

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large leek (white and pale green part only), thinly sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 lbs medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

 

Steps:

  1. Line a small baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper [you won’t be baking these, so you can use anything that fits in your refrigerator]. Using a fork, in a small bowl, combine the goat cheese and 2 T basil until smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste.  Spray a 1/2-ounce cookie scoop or a round tablespoon measure with cooking spray. Scoop cheese balls and place them on prepared baking sheet (or whatever you are using). Refrigerate while you make the soup.
  2. In a large saucepan (or Dutch oven), heat the butter over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring constantly until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth, asparagus, and remaining 1/2 cup basil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers and cook for about 15 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend the sound until smooth.  [Note: After making this recipe twice, I purchased a cheap immersion blender at TJMaxx and it has been worth it!]
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the herbed cheese balls (at least what’s left of them).

 

It’s as simple as that and will be a treat the whole family will love on a cold day like today. Enjoy!

 

– Tanya Runci, MA, ADE