Monday, August 27, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Chilled Asparagus Soup with timble of caviar, crab and avocado

I know what you are all thinking: Caviar? Waaaay outta my budget. Don't worry. This soup is great without it. The two times I have made this, it was a big hit and great dish to kick-off a dinner party.

Chilled asparagus soup with timbale of caviar, crab and avocado
Bon Appétit September 2000

A star starter from Hubert Keller at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco. A good mold for the timbale is a six-ounce tomato-paste can that has the top and bottom removed.

Servings: Makes 6 servings.

3 tablespoons butter
2 small leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thickly sliced (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed, spears coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
3 cups chopped spinach leaves (about 31/2 ounces)
6 tablespoons flaked fresh crabmeat
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3/4 cup diced peeled pitted avocado
6 teaspoons good-quality black caviar (such as osetra)

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 8 minutes. Add spinach, cover and simmer until wilted, about 4 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Transfer soup to large bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool, then cover and chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Mix crabmeat, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and shallot in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix avocado and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in another small bowl; mash coarsely. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place tomato can or biscuit cutter in center of 1 soup bowl. Spoon in 1 tablespoon avocado mixture; smooth top. Spoon in 1 tablespoon crab mixture; press lightly to compact. Spoon in 1 tablespoon avocado mixture. Top with 1 teaspoon caviar. Carefully lift off can. Repeat in remaining soup bowls with remaining timbale ingredients. Ladle soup around each timbale. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

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