It is impossible to go to the grocery store your local farmers market right now and not get inspired by what you see! Everywhere I turn there are beautiful bunches of asparagus, baby spring peas, spring onions, fresh herbs and more, leading professional chefs and home cooks to recreate weekly menus using the best from springtime gardens. We had some friends over the other evening who wanted to bring some wine to pair with dinner and when they asked what we would be serving all I could say was “something green,” as mother nature has wrapped her fresh and bountiful arms around our kitchen. Here is the first of a few garden inspired spring recipes, this one with lots of tarragon and fennel to really enhance the licorice and anise notes with the bundle of fresh asparagus and very little else to make sure the rich veggie flavors popped, and paired with one of our favorites any time of the year, a crisp, vibrant and always refreshing Miner Family Vineyards Chardonnay.
Cold Asparagus and Fennel Soup
Ingredients: (for 8 servings)
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, hard ends removed (break each end off naturally to remove the fibrous ends) and chopped
1 large fennel, chopped (reserve fennel frawns for garnish)
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup fat free or regular half and half
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the celery, onion and fennel and cook, stirring often, until they have softened (about 7-10 minutes.) Add the lemon, asparagus, squash and garlic and continue cooking, stirring often for another 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, about 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the wine and the stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the herbs and simmer for another 10-15 minutes allowing all the flavors to meld together nicely. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or food processor blend until very smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to ensure the soup is very cold (if you’re in a time crunch, as I was, you can also place it in the freezer for at least 2 hours and stir often to make sure the top doesn’t freeze.) When ready to serve remove from the fridge, adjust any final seasonings and whisk in the half and half. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish reserved fennel frawns.
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