Roasted Asparagus Soup & Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Panini

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You know the annoying little-kid thing? The: "if you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Forget that. If you live it so much, soup it. I'm serious! Asparagus is my favorite vegetable (balsamic reduction is always on standby in the fridge for this), and this soup nails its flavor. And, I'd always been intimidated by making soup (it was part of my argument to one day get one of these), but it turns out any trusty blender can whip some up. And, because it's soup, presentation doesn't matter. AND, that green color! 

This combination, however, is the thing I made right before the big weekend blizzard in Chicago a few weeks ago. It's also the last thing I made before I broke my camera lens, so make it, but be cautious, bad things apparently happen. But it's nothing the goat cheese and prosciutto and panini can't fix.


For asparagus soup (serves two): 
1 lb. asparagus
2 teaspoons olive oil 
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
3/4 cup table cream (18%)
1 1/4 cup chicken stock 
2 cups firmly packed, chopped spinach 

For panini (serves two): 
4 slices prosciutto 
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 slices of your favorite bread 
4 ounces herbed chévre 
Handful of baby greens 


For asparagus soup: 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

Snap off ends of asparagus spears at natural breaking point, discard. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 6-8 minutes, until the asparagus starts to turn a bright green. Shake the pan to turn the asparagus, roast for another 4 minutes. The asparagus should be just starting to blister in places. When cool enough to handle, chop the asparagus into 2-inch lengths. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter just begins to foam add the shallots and sauté until translucent and softened. Add the chopped asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and stock, and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chopped spinach, cook for 2 more minutes.

Transfer the saucepan to a blender and puree until smooth. For a velvety texture pass the soup through a fine-messed sieve. Adjust seasoning to taste.

For panini: 
In a dry pan over medium heat, fry prosciutto until starting to crisp. Remove from pan, and drain on paper towels. 

In the same pan, melt butter and olive oil. 

Spread the cheese over two slices of bread, top with prosciutto. Place remaining slice of bread on top. Grill sandwich in pan, pressing down with either a panini weight or the back of a spatula. Cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted and the cheese is beginning to soften. 

Remove from heat, drain on paper towels if there is excess oil. Open sandwich and tuck in greens.

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