Every summer in the Central Coast brings wonderful asparagus to the local farmers' markets. Unfortunately, asparagus is notoriously difficult on wine, to which it imparts a bitter aftertaste. Fortunately, grilling the asparagus solves the issue, and pairing it with a wine with a little natural bite to it like our 2008 Vermentino can be wonderful.
This recipe, provided by Chef Jeff Massey of Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, California, was part of a delicious Tablas Creek wine dinner last April and one of my recent summer wine pairing revelations.
3 to 3 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ medium onion, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream (more may be needed for a
creamier style soup)
8 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Trim the woody ends from the bottom of the asparagus.
- Place spears in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil and toss to coat. Lightly season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Place the spears evenly on a hot grill; be careful not to burn the spears, but some charring is good. Watch for flare up from the dripping oil. [Note: If you do not have a grill, place the spears on a cookie sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.]
- In a large saucepan, combine the stock, garlic and chopped onion with the grilled asparagus. Bring to a boil and simmer until the asparagus is tender.
- Pour the mixture into a food processor and set the saucepan aside.
- Blend until it reaches the consistency of puree, then (for the smoothest soup) pass the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan.
- Cut the prosciutto slices in half and place in a food processor.
- Pulse in 3 to 4 second bursts until the meat is finely chopped, then form into one ounce “tartare” meatballs and set aside.
- Return the stock mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken.
- Stir in the heavy whipping cream, bring the soup back to a boil then remove it from heat.
- Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
- Place one “tartare” meatball in each bowl and ladle soup into bowls.
- Drizzle a little truffle oil in each, and serve.
Incidentally, no one should dismiss Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens as a typical brew-pub. Their food is thoughtful and very good, sustainably sourced (the week after I was there they did a dinner where every item was harvested or caught locally and within 24 hours of preparation) and their wine program is nearly as good as their amazing beer list. Oh, and the beer's pretty terrific too. The can be found at 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA, phoned at 760-471-4999 or visited online at http://www.stonebrew.com