* CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

SOUP
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 white onion, diced
2 leeks, white parts only, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock (see archive)
l/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

GARNISH
l/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 F

Place almonds on a sheet pan and toast for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut the tips off the asparagus, blanch for 3 minutes, cool in ice water, drain and put aside.

In a large saucepan, melt one tablespoon of butter and sauté onion, leeks, and garlic for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.   Add bay leaf, white wine, and asparagus.  Simmer over medium heat until wine is reduced by hall`.

Add stock and keep it at a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream.

Using a hand mixer, purée the ingredients until smooth.

In a small bowl, mix remaining butter with flour, until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir the mixture into soup.
Simmer for 10 minutes, allowing soup to thicken.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Strain through a coarse sieve or strainer.

To serve, ladle into warm bowls and garnish with asparagus tips and slivered almonds.

Serves 6.

CULINARY NOTES:

Why unsalted butter?
Butter manufacturers use salt as a preservative in order to add to the shelf-life of the product.  The result is an ingredient that adds additional salt to a dish. This may not be the desired effect and can ruin hours of work.
Also, if a manufacturer chooses not to add salt to the butter they must use fresher cream.  Added cream to a dish brings out a silkier fresher flavor.

* We would like to thank Royal Caribbean for giving us permission to post this recipe from their Savor RCCL International Cookbook

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