Chris Jakubiec, executive chef at Plume at The Jefferson, prepared this recipe on News4 Midday April 2, 2013.
Yield: 4 portions
2 lb. asparagus spears, jumbo
3 cups chicken stock
1 each shallot, medium
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, smoked
Break one of the asparagus spears to determine where it becomes too fibrous and somewhat inedible. This will tell you approximately how much of the butt you should trim. Remove all the butts from the asparagus. They do have at least some flavor, so place them in a stockpot with the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the stock infused with the asparagus to cool and remove the butts.
Remove the tips of about five spears and finely dice. You should have about 3/4 cup.
Finely dice about 1/4 of the shallot. You should have about 1 tablespoon. Crush the garlic clove and set all aside.
In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the diced asparagus with the garlic clove and sprig of thyme in one teaspoon of the olive oil for about two minutes. Season generously with salt as it will help to keep the green color. Add the finely diced shallots and sauté another minute and a half to two minutes, with no browning. Check and adjust the seasoning and spread this “marmalade” out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator to cool. You want to cool the asparagus as quick as you can to keep the bright green color. Set aside once cooled.
Slice the remaining shallot, about 1/2 cup. Slice the remaining asparagus spears, about 3 1/2 to 4 cups. In a saucepan over medium heat sweat the shallot on the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, being careful not to brown. When the shallots are translucent, add the asparagus, again seasoning generously with salt, and sweat for about 2 minutes, tossing to cook evenly. Add the chicken stock and bring all to a boil over high heat. This should be enough to cook the asparagus fully. It should just be tender. If you cook too long the soup will turn brown, so be careful.
Pour the soup into a metal container set in an ice bath and cool as quickly as you can, stirring the mixture to speed the cooling process. Once cooled, place in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine strainer and place back in the ice bath until ice cold. You should have about 4 cups. (These steps can be done one day ahead, with the marmalade and soup kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
Whip the cream in a mixer until thickened. Season to taste with salt and the coarse-ground pepper. Mix to incorporate and set aside. The cream should not be so thick that you can scoop it, more like a thin pancake or waffle batter that you can pour.
Quickly bring the soup back to a boil in a stockpot, adjust the seasoning, and divide into four bowls. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the cream on top of the soup, drizzle with the smoked olive oil, and enjoy.