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SUNDAY SLOW SOUPERS #9 - LEEK AND ASPARAGUS SOUP WITH FRIED LEEKS & AMARETTI

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This week's recipe was chosen by Palma, of Palmabella's Passions. She chose a soup that I was interested to try-Leek and Asparagus Soup. This is a Roman dish, that is traditionally served at Easter time. This soup was very easy to make. You saute sliced leeks and chopped potatoes, then add chopped asparagus, chicken broth, and pancetta if you choose. Simmer 30-40 minutes, then puree. Then the soup is put back on the stove and half and half is added. The soup is garnished with fried leeks and crushed Amaretti cookies. I made only two substitutes-I garnished with fried shallots instead of leeks, and I used Fat-free half & half instead of regular. I loved the addition of the garnishes, but the soup was also good a few days later without any garnishes. It tastes like a potato-asparagus soup, and is very flavorful.

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Leek and Asparagus Soup with Fried Leeks and Crushed Amaretti

The recipe is from A Cook’s Tour of Italy by Joe Famularo.

3-4 leeks, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 T. butter
2 c. peeled, diced potatoes
1 bunch asparagus, tender parts only, cut into 1 “ pieces
1 ½ quarts chicken broth (6 cups)
seasalt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup half & half
butter or olive oil for frying leeks for garnish
4 Amaretti cookies, crumbled, or grated

*optional: 2-3 oz. chopped, cooked pancetta. This is not part of the original recipe, but adds lots of flavor.

1. Cut leeks in half and wash well, separating the leaves with your fingers while running them under cool water to remove any sand. Drain the leeks and cut them crosswise into thin slices. Reserve about ¼ c. of leeks for frying.

2. In a large saucepan, melt butter and sauté leeks lightly. Add potato cubes and sauté about 4 minutes. Add asparagus, broth and some salt and pepper. If using pancetta, add it now. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Put mixture through a food mill, sieve, or use a blender or emersion blender. Return to saucepan and add half & half. Simmer until mixture is warmed.

To serve, heat some oil or butter in a small saucepan, and fry leeks until crisp. Ladle the soup into warm bowls, sprinkle with crumbled amaretti in the center, and top with some crisp leeks.

* Don't skip the toppings! They are wonderful with the soup!

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