Asparagus-Leek Soup with Parmesan Pepper Toasts

(From Betty Rosbottom)

 

2 pounds asparagus

Generous dash cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cups chopped leeks, white parts only

1 cup milk

7 cups chicken stock

3 tablespoons chopped chives

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Parmesan-Black Pepper Toasts, recipe    

 

below

Cut off and discard tough ends from asparagus.  Use vegetable peeler to peel skin from each stalk (start just under the spear.)  Cut stalks into ½ inch slices.

 

Heat olive oil in large, heavy deep sided pan over medium-high heat.  When oil is hot, add leeks and sauté, stirring until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

 

Add asparagus, chicken stock, salt and cayenne to taste.  Bring mixture to simmer.  Lower heat and simmer until asparagus is quite soft, about 30 minutes.

 

Purée soup in blender, food processor, food mill, or with hand-held blender.  Return soup to pan and add 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice and the milk.  Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if desired.  If not using immediately, cook, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

 

To serve, reheat and pour into 8 individual soup bowls.  Garnish each serving with chopped chives and serve with Parmesan-Black Pepper Toasts.  Makes 8 servings.

 

 

Parmesan-Black Pepper Toasts

 

1 baguette French bread, 2 ½ to 3 pounds

½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 cup imported Parmesan cheese

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ teaspoons coarsely ground black

 

pepper

 

 

Cut bread into a inch thick slices (about 32) and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 350F. until lightly toasted on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total.  Remove.

 

Combine cheese pepper, lemon peel and butter in bowl and mix well to blend.  Spread each slice on one side with about 1 teaspoon butter mixture.  Toasts can be prepared about 2 hours ahead, covered loosely with foil and left at room temperature.

 

To finish toasts, bake at 350F. Until cheese topping is hot, about 5 minutes.  Serve warm with soup.  Makes 8 servings, 4 toasts each.