Inspired by a Cold Asparagus Soup we were served as an amuse-bouche when we dined recently at The Charles Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this light, creamy and delicious appetizer 'shooter' is the perfect way to start any summer meal. The intense flavour and vibrant green hue of fresh Ontario asparagus and fragrant leeks smells heavenly as they're sautéed in butter then simmered in an aromatic broth until tender. The soup is then puréed in a blender until it's silky smooth, then passed through a sieve for a more refined texture. Thick crème fraîche or heavy cream is then added to the soup, creating a delightfully rich and satisfying appetizer that can be showcased in tall shot glasses or small demi-tasse cups, garnished with a swirl of crème fraîche as a final flourish.
Cold Asparagus Soup (Crème d'asperges)
Serves 8 as amuse-bouche
2 pounds green asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large leeks, white part only, sliced
3 tbsp unsalted butter
5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Cook the leeks in 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring until softened. Add the asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and cook stirring for 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Purée the soup in a blender, in batches until smooth, then return to the pan using a sieve, to ensure all solids are removed. Stir in the crème fraîche, adding more broth to thin soup if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter. To serve, pour the soup into small cups or shooter glasses, garnishing with the lemon juice and a swirl of crème fraîche or heavy cream. The soup can be made ahead and keeps, covered and chilled, for up to 2 days.