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1 pound asparagus spears
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Goat Cheese Cream
4 oz of soft goat cheese
1 ½ oz heavy cream
1 Teaspoon chopped chives
Bend each asparagus stalk near the base, breaking the spear at the natural spot where the tough base gives way to the tender upper portion. Trim away about 3 inches from the tops of 12 spears to use for garnish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add the asparagus spears to the boiling water and cook until bright green and nearly tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Scoop out the spears with a slotted spoon and immediately put in the ice water to quickly cool. Return the water to a boil, add the reserved asparagus tips and cook until bright green and nearly tender, about 1 minute. Scoop the tips out with a slotted spoon and cool in the ice water as well. When the asparagus is cold, drain well and arrange on paper towels to dry. Set aside the asparagus tips for later use and cut the remaining asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces.
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted and foamy white. Add the onion, thyme, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the asparagus pieces, then add the vegetable stock. Bring the stock just to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the crème fraîche, and simmer until the asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Strain the asparagus, returning the liquid to the saucepan. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat and boil to reduce by one-third. In the meantime, purée the asparagus mixture in a blender or food processor until very smooth. If the purée is quite thick, add a couple tablespoons of water to lighten the purée. Pass the purée through a fine sieve, pressing with the back of a rubber spatula to remove any fibrous bits. Stir the puréed asparagus into the cooking liquids. Taste the soup for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste; keep warm over low heat. Cut the reserved asparagus tips in half lengthwise (unless the tips are already quite thin).
For the goat cheese, whip the cheese with the whip cream until soft and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, whisking to fully blend.
To serve, ladle the asparagus soup into warmed shallow soup bowls. Form 4 large quenelles of goat cheese and set them in the center of the soup. Lean the reserved asparagus tips up against the goat cheese. Scatter the chives over the cheese. Drizzle the top of each soup with hazelnut oil and serve right away.
Thierry Rautureau 2018 ©
The Chef In The Hat ™