Italy is about the size of Texas, yet there are 20 distinct wine regions with completely different foods and cultural differences. Picking a region and doing an Italian themed night of food matches is one of our favorite things to do on weekend.
Asparagus grows well in northern Italy as well in northern California....and wouldn't you know it, it's in season. So I pulled out my favorite cookbook from SPQR and rode down to the farmer's market to get some fresh ingredients.
Fiano is a classic grape grown primarily on the Italian island of Campania, and can also be found on the island of Sicily. Fiano di Avellino DOCG offers beautiful, age worthy wines that are richly aromatic and flavored when young showing honeyed white flower notes. But they get even better as they sit in the bottle where roasted nutty non-fruit aromas start to develop.
1 lb. Asparagus
4 cups Spinach
2 cups Italian Parsley
1 Walla Walla Sweet Onion (or yellow onion), chopped
1 Leek, white and light green part only sliced thin
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Cups Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper
1. Begin by preparing an ice bath. Cut the ends off the asparagus and discard. Cut the asparagus stalks into 1/2 pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Take a few asparagus tips (3 per bowl of soup) and cook them in the boiling water, then remove from boiling water and place in the ice bath. Blanching the tips keeps the green color and softens them up to use as decoration on the soup when you serve it. Refrigerate tips until ready to serve.
2. In the same pot of boiling water, blanch spinach and parsley for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from boiling water and place in ice bath. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out excess water and set aside.
3. In a large pot, heat approximately one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat. Sweat the onion, leek and garlic, making sure not to caramelize them about 3-5 minutes. Stir in asparagus and cook until asparagus softens up.
4. Turn off heat and pour in cream along with blanched spinach and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. In a blender, puree soup until it's smooth. It might take a few minutes for it to completely mix. Using a spatula, strain and press soup through a fine mesh strainer into a metal bowl in an ice bath to cool soup down quickly. Refrigerate soup until ready to serve.
6. I serve the soup in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt in the middle with some lemon zest and the reserved asparagus tips on top for presentation.