Late spring/early summer is prime time for the asparagus harvest. This low-fat soup is simple and quick to prepare, and may be served hot or cold. A red, yellow, or orange pepper coulis presents a stunning contrast of colors as a garnish when serving. A dollop of crème fraiche with the hot version provides a richer, smother taste of comfort.
For the Soup:
1-1/2 quarts chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup leeks, white and pale green parts only, split, washed and thinly sliced (one large or two small leeks)
¼ cup potatoes, peeled, ¼” dice (optional for a thicker soup)
2 dozen large asparagus spears, discard the last inch or two of the woody stem, the rest in ½” slices
6-8 sprigs of Italian parsley, leaves only
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
Lemon juice and/or Tabasco to taste
Heat the chicken stock in a 2-3 quart pot; warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sweat for 5-7 minutes with a lid on the pot. Stir frequently, do not let them brown. Add the hot chicken stock, potato and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the asparagus slices and simmer on high heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add parsley leaves and cook another 30 seconds. Pour into a blender until half full and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice and/or Tabasco and strain into a bowl. Continue process with the remainder of soup. Place the bowl in an ice bath and cool rapidly. (This will allow the soup to retain its vibrant green color.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Optional Pepper Coulis:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon shallots, peeled and chopped
2 small sweet red, yellow or orange bell peppers, split, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ cup chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sweat the shallots and peppers until soft, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook 4-5 minutes. Pour into blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco, strain and cool.
Presentation: To serve cold, pour the chilled soup into chilled bowls, drizzle the pepper coulis on top with your own design. To serve hot, heat soup and pepper coulis separately, pour into warm soup bowls and drizzle on coulis. Dollop on or drizzle optional crème fraiche.
Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Red Pepper Soup
At the height of summer when eggplants and peppers are ripe and sweet and the barbeque grill is fired up, this is the soup to serve to showcase your gardening and grilling skills. The grilling of the vegetables is the secret to a subtle smoky flavor in this soup. An alternative is to roast the vegetables in a hot over. Here at The Home Ranch our grills are working overtime every day so it’s easy for us to prep this soup; and it keeps with the Cowboy tradition of cooking over open fires.
For the Soup:
1 large or 2 small eggplant
3 Red Bell peppers
2 small red onions
6 cloves of garlic in their husk
1 Serrano chile
4-6 Roma tomatoes
1-1½ quarts chicken stock
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Bouquet garni (a tied bundle) of thyme, basil, parsley
Preparation: Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and coat with olive oil. Grill until the skin is black and the eggplant is soft. Remove pulp and set aside.
Coat the red bell peppers with olive oil and grill on all sides, allowing blistering and blackening of the skin to occur. Remove, cool in closed container, then peel away skin, remove seeds and stem but save the precious juices inside the pepper to add to the soup. Quarter the onions, oil them along with the Serrano chile, tomatoes and garlic cloves. Place them on a fine mesh screen over your grill and cook until soft. In a 2-3 quart soup pot add 2 tablespoons olive oil, warm over medium heat. Add eggplant pulp, red peppers, tomatoes, peeled and seeded Serrano and peeled garlic, and sweat together for 5 minutes. Add stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook soup 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat, place in blender in batches and puree. Strain through a fine meshed sieve or food mill. Serve with scallion cream, croutons, or chopped parsley.
Our Black Bean Soup (Serves 6-8)
Our classic black lentil bean soup is served in the cooler months of late summer and early fall as accompaniment to our Southwest and Mexican style meals. It is low-fat, nutritious yet tastes luscious and rich. For a more rustic presentation don’t puree all the beans, reserve some to put back into your pureed soup. A beautiful and sophisticated presentation is to swirl creme onto the bowled soup and garnish with salsa fresca and cilantro sprigs.
For the soup:
1 pound black turtle beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni, a tied bundle, of parsley, thyme, tarragon, leek and celery stalk
1 ham bone
2-3 quarts chicken stock
1 tablespoon roasted and ground cumin seed
½ tablespoon roasted and ground Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon Ancho Chile powder
1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled and seeded and diced
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
Sea salt and kosher salt
Lemon juice to taste
Salsa fresca, (recipe to follow)
Preparation: The night before rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or discolored beans. Soak overnight in three times the volume of cold water.
In a one gallon soup pot add the olive oil and warm over medium heat. To this add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sweat with a lid on the pot for 5-7 minutes. Add the drained black beans, bouquet garni, ham bone and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Continue to simmer slowly for two hours until beans are tender. Add water as necessary to keep beans covered by at least one inch. Frequently stir beans to ensure they are cooking evenly.
When beans are tender put them through a food mill with a medium disc, or for a smoother puree, blend in blender. Mix the puree with the cumin, oregano, chile powder and poblano chile. Adjust consistency with hot stock or water.
For the crema, mix the sour cream and milk together until smooth.
To Serve: Heat the bean puree and again adjust consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Pour into warm soup bowls. Drizzle the crema over each serving and place a dollop of salsa in the center with a sprig of cilantro.
4 cups tomato concasse (peeled and seeded diced tomatoes)
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 fresh Serrano, stemmed, seeded, minced
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sea salt
2-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preparation: Mix in a bowl the tomatoes, onions, chiles and cilantro. Add salt and lime juice. Let sit for one hour. Drain excess juice. Add olive oil.