Thursday, May 19, 2011

Italian with Allan!

Last week at The Cookbook Co. Cooks we hosted “Italian with Allan”. Allan Shewchuk is a chef who has been working with us for years, and his recipes are simply amazing (which explains why his classes fill up so quickly!). So for those of you who were not able to attend his last class, Allan has been kind enough to share a recipe from that evening… We hope you love it as much as we do!


The Italians love asparagus, especially in the North where they make risotto
with it. But, I like this soup because of the mix of flavours, particularly
the tarragon. In fact, with the addition of the tarragon, this dish is so
far “North” that you can see France. You can make this as thick or thin as
you like, but I prefer it thicker so that the asparagus tips can float on
top. I also like to add ciabatta croutons just crisped with a bit of
butter, and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano. Very pretty! It cries out
“Primavera!” in Italiano (that is Spring to you!).

Serves 4

Note: Cut off the asparagus tips, saving them for the truffle infused
garnish. Use the stems for the soup. You can do the tips in advance if you

2 T. butter
½ c. chopped shallots or sweet onion
1 t. Chopped garlic
2 medium yellow fleshed potatoes peeled and diced
1 lb. Asparagus trimmed and chopped into 2" lengths (remember to save the
1 t. fresh tarragon or ½ tsp dried (or to taste)
5 c. chicken stock (you can make this vegetarian with veggie stock)


Asparagus tips from the stalks for the soup, blanched so as to be al dente
2 T. truffle oil

Note: if making croutons, cube into small squares some ciabatta bread and
then toast in a sauté pan in a little salted butter. If you want to use the
parmigiano on the croutons, as opposed to a sprinkle over the top, do so
right as you finish toasting them.

Heat the butter in the soup pot on medium heat. All the shallots and garlic
and sauté one minute. Add the potatoes and sauté two minutes or until
covered in butter. Stir in the asparagus stems and the tarragon. Pour in
the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for
12-15 minutes or until the potatoes and asparagus are tender. Using a hand
mixer or putting the soup in batches in a food processor, puree until
smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Reheat the soup and place in bowls.
Toss the asparagus tips with truffle oil and use them to garnish the soup.
If using croutons, place around the tips and dust with parmigiano.

Note: It is a big trend these days to make a little “stack” of garnish, like
the tips or the croutons, in the middle of the bowl, and then pour the soup
around the stack so it protrudes above the soup. This can also be done with
great fanfare at the table if you want to place the bowl with the stack of
your garnish in front of your guest, and then decant the soup from a pitcher
into the bowl. I love drama....

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