Creamy asparagus bisque will warm you up this weekend

It’s going to be a cold weekend. Do you have your soup picked out yet?

Pureeing vegetable soups until smooth can be tough if you don’t have the right tools. You can use lots of different gadgets— food processor, blender, food mill or immersion blender — and each will yield a slightly different texture.

Many of us have older models of these tools but are slowly starting to upgrade them, so if you find yourself with a Vitamix or a Cuisinart hand blender under the tree last week, you might put it to use this week with a creamy asparagus and leek bisque topped with seared scallops.

This recipe comes from “Soup Nights: Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year” (Rizzoli, $35), whose author Betty Rosbottom writes that you can replace the bay scallops with sea scallops cut into quarters. I think shrimp would be delicious with this cozy wintertime soup, too.

This creamy asparagus and leek soup is topped with bay scallops. It's from "Soup Nights" by Betty Rosbottom. Contributed by Harry Zernike

This creamy asparagus and leek soup is topped with bay scallops. It’s from “Soup Nights” by Betty Rosbottom. Contributed by Harry Zernike

Asparagus Bisque with Bay Scallops

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, divided
3 cups (about 2 large) finely chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
2 lb. asparagus, tough ends broken off and discarded and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3/4 lb. bay scallops or 10 to 12 medium sea scallops (quartered with side muscles removed and discarded), patted dry
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. chopped chives

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. When hot, add the leeks and sauté, stirring until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and stir and cook 1 minute more.

Add the broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a simmer until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Purée the mixture in batches in a food processor, blender or food mill, then return to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.)

Whisk in the crème fraîche, lemon juice and cayenne. Season the bisque with salt to taste. (Soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over medium heat.) Return pot to very low heat to keep warm while finishing the soup.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining tablespoon of butter and the canola oil. When hot, add scallops, and cook until light golden brown and just cooked through, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side, depending on their size. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls. Place a few scallops atop each serving, and garnish with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs and chives. Serves 5-6.

— From “Soup Nights: Satisfying Soups and Sides for Delicious Meals All Year” by Betty Rosbottom (Rizzoli, $35)

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