Dinner went splendidly, though there was much frantic cooking at the last minute, and vast assistance from Ryan, Sharmi *and* Kevin -- otherwise, we would've been eating at 9 instead of 8. I'm usually pretty good at timing things, but sometimes I really underestimate how long chopping will take. That's usually what gets me. In the end, I half-finished the asparagus soup and then left it for Kevin to finish properly, and he ended up doing the lamb from beginning to end because I was busy with other things. Sharmi and Ryan washed dishes all the way through the cooking process, so there were *none* when we sat down to eat, *and* they made the garlic aioli and assembled the bruschetta -- no small feat! Good job by all.
Everything came out tasty, though to my mind, the lamb was least exciting (and at the price, I doubt I'll bother to make rack of lamb again anytime soon). People were particularly pleased with the goat cheese-beet salad and the fennel-potato gratin. Or at least I was, and I'm people, right?
The asparagus soup came out rather yummy too, and since M'ris asked for the recipe, here you go. Enjoy!
Asparagus Soup - serves 6-8
- 3 pounds fresh asparagus
- 2 T butter
- 6 c. chicken broth (Swanson's is best)
- 2 T cornstarch
- 1/2 c. whipping cream
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Trim the woody ends from the bottom of the asparagus spears and cut the spears into 1 inch pieces.
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are bright green, but not browned.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil over a high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the asparagus is tender, yet crisp. Reserve 12-16 of the asparagus tps for garnishing. Season with salt and pepper, cover and continue cooking for about 15-20 minutes until very tender.
- Puree the soup in a blender and pour back into the saucepan. (For a really smooth soup, pass it through the fine blade of a food mill as you return it to the pan. We don't have a food mill, so we didn't do that step. Came out fine.) Bring the soup back to a boil over medium-high heat. Blend the cornstarch with 2-3 T of cold water and whisk it into the boiling soup to thicken it. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a few of the asparagus tips.