This recipe is a rich and creamy soup that highlights the flavors of the vegetables and is punctuated by the savory and nutty addition of parmigiano cheese. The creaminess is achieved without the additional dairy and fat of traditional heavy cream, by emulsifying the vegetables and the cheese with my new favorite kitchen toy - the immersion blender. I roasted the cauliflower in advance, but it works well simply adding them raw with the asparagus; just make sure you boil for long enough that both are soft. For this dish I used my own stock, which I pre-seasoned for storage. You can use store bought chicken stock, but if you do you’ll want to pump up the salt, pepper and herbs as stocks are typically unseasoned (broth, if you have a favorite brand) works too!
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound asparagus ( trimmed, chopped and several tips set aside for garnish)
- ½ lb cauliflower (can be roasted with garlic ahead of time but not necessary)
- 5 oz parmigiano reggiano
- 2 medium white onions (diced)
- 3 gloves of garlic (rough dice)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt, pepper, herbs to taste (depending on if your stock is already seasoned)
- Pinch of cayenne for anyone who likes a little heat
- Fresh ground black pepper for garnish
In a large pot, cook the onions and garlic with the butter until soft. Add the chopped asparagus and cauliflower, then cover with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables are very soft (30+ minutes). This is the point where you would add thyme, dill, tarragon, bay leaf, garlic powder, white pepper, fennel seeds, or whatever other herbs you appreciate in a vegetable soup, just do what smells right or you are used to, it’s hard to go wrong. taste as it cooks, add salt or a little water depending on how the salinity changes as the soup boils down. If you have fresh herbs make a bouquet garni and drop it in. While the soup boils, bring a small amount of water to a boil in a small pot. Drop in reserved asparagus tips and cook for 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and drop into ice water. This blanching will bring out the brightest color for the garnish. Once the vegetables are soft, use an immersion blender to emulsify into a silky texture (a good conventional blender also works, just be careful transferring in and out of the cooking pot). You can strain out the remaining fibers if you like, but I prefer to leave them in. Slowly add the cheese, blending intermittently until smooth and creamy (save a little cheese for the garnish as well). Serve in a large bowl, top with reserved cheese, blanched asparagus tips, and a twist of fresh ground black pepper.