Asparagus Bisque with Bay Scallops
Pairs Well With
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 creme fraiche
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 saute, 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.
Puree the mixture in batches in a food processor, blender or food mill, then return to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot.) Whisk in the creme fraiche, 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 l! ow 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.