You know that spring is on its way when asparagus begin showing up at markets around San Francisco. Their bright green stalks are delicious in almost anything, including this bisque, which captures the delicate flavors of this quintessential spring vegetable. We’ve topped it with a little lemon crème fraîche and a spoonful of local Dungeness crab and the colors look beautiful together. Perfect for spring!
Active Time: 45 minutes
Serves 8 as a first course
2½ lbs asparagus
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 leek, whites and pale greens finely chopped
1½ celery stalks, diced
1 small russet potato, peeled and diced into ½” pieces
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 cups vegetable stock – we like Rapunzel Brand vegetable bouillon
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup crème fraîche
Lemon Crème Fraîche
½ cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon lemon zest (use a Meyer lemon if possible)
¼ lb Dungeness crab
1 bunch lemon thyme
Snap the ends off of the asparagus and discard. Prepare an ice-water bath. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to ice-water bath to cool. Drain and set aside.
In another large heavy stockpot, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, leeks and celery and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add potatoes, salt, pepper and vegetable stock, reserving 1 cup of the broth on the side. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus (reserve a few of the smallest stalks for garnish if you want to) and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until very smooth. Once all of the soup has been pureed, add more broth if it is too thick. Whisk in the heavy whipping cream and crème fraîche and season with more salt if needed.
Lemon Crème Fraîche
Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl until crème fraîche is slightly stiff – like whipped cream.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with a spoonful of lemon crème fraîche in the center of each bowl. Drag the tip of a knife through the crème fraîche several times to achieve a spiderweb-like design. Place a spoonful of crab in the center of each soup. Garnish with a few asparagus stalks and a sprig of lemon thyme and serve.