Friday, April 20, 2012
Giada's Asparagus Soup
Our friends, Mary and Fred were here for a visit. Many years ago they came to a financial planning class that I taught. Over the years we became fast friends. Then, I met Connie and he enjoyed their company as much as I did. They did trial runs of a few locations before deciding on a retirement spot in Bellingham, WA. Over the years we spent a weekend with them in Grand Rapids, MI and a long weekend with them in Queen Creek, AZ (actually a suburb of Phoenix.) We've not been to their new home in Washington but did visit when they owned a home up in the mountains. They were the first to know when we got engaged back in December of 2005. So, we've shared a lot of history. Needless to say, we miss seeing them! When they found out that their daughter was going to be attending a conference in Indy and could bring one of their grandsons, they asked if there was room at the inn. Always!
So, Saturday evening they arrived. I'd planned a hodgepodge of dishes. No one theme. Just things that sounded good. And, without thinking about it, it was virtually vegetarian.
First we had a fantastic appetizer. You'll have to check back on Monday, April 23 to see that since it's my Secret Recipe Club dish.
Next, we tried our first new recipe from Giada's new cookbook: Weeknights with Giada. If everything in the cookbook is as good as this was, it's a total winner. This was asparagus soup. The recipe called for basil. I had tarragon. So, I substituted. Basically you cook the asparagus with leeks in chicken broth. Then you puree it. Up to that point it's pretty plain pipe-rack asparagus soup. Then, the difference maker. You make balls of herbed goat cheese and drop them on top of the soup. Wow! The creaminess of the goat cheese just takes the soup to another level. It's fantastic!
Our entree was eggplant involtini. This is a go-to dish for Connie and me. He's been asking for it for a few weeks now. We typically have it several times over the summer when our eggplant plants are producing like crazy. Mary and Fred had never had anything other than eggplant parmesan so this was a new concept for them. As usual, I used Rao's Roasted Eggplant Sauce beneath the involtinis. It's expensive but worth the splurge a few times a year. And, if I can find it on sale, I stockpile it!
Last, but not least, another round of my friend Liz's White Chocolate Creme Brulee. This is what we had on our birthday dinner weekend. And, it was the first thing Connie requested when I said Mary loves desserts. It is so easy to put together and looks and tastes so incredible. Here's the link so you can hop over to Liz's blog and check it out. She is an amazing cook so I hope you've got some time to explore her blog.
Giada's Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese
2 lbs asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 1" pieces
2 T butter
1 leek, white part only, chopped
basil or tarragon
4 c chicken broth (I used homemade stock)
basil or tarragon
Saute the leek in the butter. Add the asparagus and chicken broth along with fresh herbs of your choice. Cook until the asparagus is VERY soft. While the soup is cooking, you're going to make goat cheese balls to go on top. Finely mince the fresh herbs you want to use. I used tarragon instead of the basil the recipe called for but I'd think pretty much any herbs would be good here. You could even mix it up a bit and add some pepper or other spicy bit. You'll want about a tablespoon of goat cheese for each serving. When the soup is ready, puree it either with an immersion blender or a blender - being very careful to vent the lid just a bit to let the steam escape. Serve hot topped with the dollop of herbed goat cheese.
adapted from Weeknights with Giada