White asparagus soup from ’21’ Club

White asparagus stalks are sprouting up at the Greenmarkets around the city. What do do with them? Why not turn them into this elegant soup that’s served at NYC’s most iconic restaurant: ’21’ Club. You can easily make a meal out of the soup, with bread, salad and wine. But at ’21’ Club you can order it as a first-course. Chef John Greeley so kindly shared the recipe with us. Find out more about ’21’ Club in my Q&A with Chef John Greeley in Hauteliving.com.

White Asparagus Soup
Courtesy of Chef John Greeley of 21 Club
Serves 4

2 c. onion (diced large)
1 c. leek (white part only, diced)
6 c. white asparagus (cut into 1 inch pieces)
4 c. vegetable stock or white chicken stock (have an extra cup for adjusting consistency*)
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 Bay Leaf Salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Make the soup
1. In an 8 qt. stainless steel pot on medium heat (no aluminum because it will turn the soup a slight tint of grey), add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion, leek and garlic.
2. Begin to sauté stirring so the onion and garlic become translucent NOT browned. This takes 3-5 minutes.
3. Add asparagus and stir together and season with salt and cayenne pepper, then add stock to just cover ingredients.
4. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, as soon as this happens cover and turn down to a simmer.
5. Cook 15-20 minutes until asparagus is tender, cool off soup then purée in a blender.
6. Strain soup through cheese cloth of fine mesh strainer, pressing out all the soup with the back of a
7. Check to adjust seasoning and keep cool until ready to heat and serve.

For the Garnish

1 c. watercress leaves (chopped)
1 pinch chili threads (or Cayenne)
4 oz. salmon (poached or steamed, then seasoned and tossed in olive oil.)
4 Tbs. leek (diced, and cooked tender in boiling water)
2 Tbs. croutons (hand dice bread small and toast in oven with a touch of olive oil)

To garnish
Pour hot soup into warmed bowls, then garnish with ingredients and serve.