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Recipe #245: Velouté d'Asperges avec Estragon et Thym (Cream of Asparagus with Tarragon & Thyme)

Posted Feb 26 2011 7:23pm
Total Fat 7 G11 Saturated Fat 1.5 G8 Trans Fat 0 G Cholesterol 5 Mg2 Sodium 830 Mg35 Total Carbohydrate 9 G3 Dietary Fiber 3 G12 Sugars 2 G Protein 2 G Vitamin A4 Vitamin C0 Calcium0
Yes, another French dish for dinner. :) This one's a childhood favorite of mine. The fresh flavor of this soup is so much better than eating the condensed version out of a can! And by "better" I mean not only in terms of taste, but also in terms of nutritional value & one's overall health. :)

It's easy enough to round up the supporting evidence. To illuminate the differences, all you have to do is check the ingredients listed on a can of Campbell's Cream of Asparagus Soup: "Water, Asparagus, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola And/Or Soybean), Modified Good Starch, Wheat Flour, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Cream (Milk), Salt, Dried Why (Milk), Soy Protein Concentrate, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice."

Not exactly nutritious, eh?! Note that vegetable oil is the third ingredient after water & asparagus. That's a lot of oil. Plus, vegetable oil is nowhere near as good of a choice as (extra virgin) olive oil, or even canola oil for that matter. (See my previous post entitled " Cooking Oils: Which One is Best?! " for further background info on this topic.) Also, you'll see that Campbell's version contains cream, sugar, & MSG. Do I even need to continue? ;)

And now let's look at the nutritional info, listed below: If you total everything up, you'll see that one 10.75 oz. can of their soup contains 275 calories, 17.5 grams of fat, and 2075 mg. of sodium! Not only that, but in one serving (120 ml., or 4.3 fl. oz.), 60 out of 110 calories come from fat. That's over half (54.5%) of an entire serving of soup! Do you really want to put that much fat into your body for such a small amount of food? (I'd personally rather get more "bang for the buck" & also more evenly spread out my 25-30% RDA of fat calories. ;) )

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 120 mL
Servings Per Container 2.5
Amount Per Serving
Calories 110Calories from Fat 60
% Daily Value*
(-) Information is currently not available for this nutrient.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:**
** Percent Daily Values listed below are intended for adults and children over 4 years of age. Foods represented or purported to be for use by infants, children less than 4 years of age, pregnant women, or lactating women shall use the RDI's that are specified for the intended group provided by the FDA.
Calories:2,0002,500 Total FatLess than65g80g Sat. FatLess than20g25g CholesterolLess than300mg300mg SodiumLess than2400mg2400mg Potassium3500mg3500mg Total Carbohydrate300mg375mg Dietary Fiber25mg30mg Calories per gram:
Fat 9·Carbohydrate 4·Protein 4





Still want to eat the canned version now?! ;) Didn't think so. :) Sorry, Campbell's, but I'd rather make it fresh any day of the week. :) I value my health, thank you very much!

My version of cream of asparagus is much lower in fat & sodium, and only contains whole, natural ingredients. It's creamy without relying on major amounts of butter, cream, crème fraîche, & other tremendously fattening ingredients that are typically found in a "cream of...(insert name of vegetable here)" type of soup. :) So, now you can enjoy the creamy taste of cream of asparagus & still be able to zip your pants afterwards. :)




















Velouté d'Asperges avec Estragon et Thym (Cream of Asparagus with Tarragon & Thyme)

Ingredients:
1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. leeks (white parts only), well-washed & sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 1 large leek)
1/4 c. shallots, peeled & finely minced (about 1 large shallot)1 large fresh bay leaf 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter1/2 Tbsp. unbleached, all-purpose flour1/4 c. dry white wine (I used a dry Orvieto )3 c. green asparagus, ends trimmed, chopped into 1 1/2" pieces with asparagus tips reserved ( about 1 1lb. )1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
3 c. chicken or vegetable broth1/16 tsp. (a pinch) ground nutmeg 1/4 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley1/4 c. basil leaves, chopped 1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, densely packed & finely minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 c. skim milk1/2 c. nonfat buttermilk (use lowfat if unavailable)
1/4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste (or if you like your soup extra tangy, try 1/2 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. chives (optional, for garnish)
2-3 Tbsp. nonfat plain Greek yoghurt or low-fat sour cream (optional, for garnish)

Directions: Heat olive oil in a large non-stick stock pot over low heat. Add leeks, shallots, & bay leaf, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Then, push leeks & shallots to one side of the pan, so you'll have enough room to make the roux : Melt butter & then quickly stir in flour to form a roux . Immediately deglaze with white wine. Add asparagus stalks (but not the tips), season with salt & pepper, & cook for another 2-3 minutes, until wine has been reduced to a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Then add chicken/vegetable broth, a 1/4 c. at a time, allowing each addition to be fully absorbed before adding the next, & cook until asparagus is tender but still green, about 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce broth's volume by half, turning the heat down even further should the soup begin to bubble. (Add more stock if the soup's level gets too low.) Add asparagus tips, nutmeg & all fresh herbs minus the chives, & cook until tips are tender & fresh herbs have wilted, about 3-5 more minutes. Remove from heat & set aside. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, discard bay leaf, then stir in skim milk, buttermilk, & lemon juice. Next, remove about 1/4 c. of the asparagus tips from the pot, strain, & reserve. (Tips will be used later for garnish.) Then, either use an emulsion blender (i.e., placing it into the soup pot & blending until smooth) or transfer soup contents to a blender & purée in batches, pulsing until smooth. (If you are using a blender, be very careful when transferring the soup to the blender, especially if it's still a bit hot. Also, don't fill the blender too full, or the soup will very likely splurt out & possibly burn you. Place kitchen towel over the blender lid & firmly press down on it before blending.) Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips &/or chives (if using). If desired, top with nonfat plain Greek yoghurt or low-fat sour cream. Serve chilled or hot.

Yield: 2-4 servings. (Makes about 4 c.)

Chef's Notes: Vegans can try substitute a 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil for the 1/2 Tbsp. butter & 1 c. plain lowfat soy milk for the 1/2 c. skim milk & 1/2 c. buttermilk. Please note that some kinds of so-called "plain" soy milk actually have a sweet taste (i.e., Silk, etc.), which won't work for this soup, so you'll want to look for a soy milk that doesn't add refined sugar or any other type of sweetener. It might just be safer to use a combination of tofu & water, puréed in a blender to achieve the same creamy consistency & taste as the milk & buttermilk. :) It's up to you. Although I haven't tested the balance of tofu to water, I'd guestimate that it's probably going to be something like 3/4 c. tofu to 1/4 c. water.


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