AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Asparagus Vichyssoise with Sautéed Morels DATE: 5/29/2009 11:18:00 AM ----- BODY:

I never know how much fiddleheads and morels I’ll be able to get each year, so I always make sure to cook them at least once each Spring. But with the temperamental prices and my cooking schedule, I never know if the second opportunity will arise.

The first cooking, I keep simple. I want to savor the flavors and textures, uncluttered. The second cooking, I tend to be more “creative.” An elegant way to serve the morels is atop an asparagus vichyssoise.

Asparagus Vichyssoise with Sautéed Morels

1 qt. chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbs. olive oil
2 small leeks, chopped
1/4 cup potatoes, diced
24 asparagus spears, trimmed, tips reserved
2 sprigs parsley
1 cup spinach
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound morels, wiped clean
1 large shallot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup dry sherry

For the Soup:
1. Heat olive oil in large pot. Sweat leeks and potatoes. Add asparagus, parsley and chicken broth. Simmer for 15 minutes or until asparagus and potatoes are tender.

2. Put 1/4 cup spinach in the bottom of a blender. Ladle soup into blender and puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat process until all the soup is pureed.

3. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus tips for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water to lock in the color.

4. Garnish soup with asparagus tips and morels.

For the Morels:
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the morels. Sprinkle shallots, garlic and thyme on top. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook for 3 minutes without stirring or shaking. Stir a little and cook for another minute.

2. Deglaze the pan with sherry. Cook for another two minutes until the sherry is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If I have a third chance, I will serve sautéed morels with seared foie gras. I still have a small piece left over in the freezer.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Katie DATE:5/29/2009 09:01:00 PM This looks great! I don't know that I'll be able to get fresh morels, but I might try this anyway. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Elra DATE:5/30/2009 09:55:00 AM Yum! The addition of morels must give this soup a nice and smoky flavor. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Lori Lynn DATE:5/30/2009 04:10:00 PM We had a most extraordinary meal in Paris last week at Le Cinq.
The first course was asparagus with morels and risotto. It was profound. I'll be writing about it later in the week. Your dish here is reminding me of it. Looks lovely.
LL ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:5/30/2009 09:07:00 PM Lovely! Nothing says Spring more than the two most wonderful Spring vegetables served together. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Melissa DATE:5/31/2009 04:30:00 AM While I am aware of how perfectly wonderful springy these are, I have yet to try morels. I know, I know. I should hurry to get some before it's too late.

I've also never tried asparagus pureed, but I bet it's awesome. I really want that bowl. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:5/31/2009 05:48:00 PM Katie -- You could also use dried morels... soaked in warm water for 20 minutes first.

Elra -- it did! And a little meaty too :)

LL - That sounds phenomenal! I can't wait to read about it on your blog.

Lydia -- I can't seem to get enough, either.

Melissa -- Sometimes I make it as a sauce for salmon, too, just adding less liquid. ----- --------