Vegetarian asparagus soup with hearty walnuts makes a vibrant colored soup that no one will be able to resist.
- 1 large bunch asparagus (1–1 1/4 pounds)
- 1 leek, thoroughly washed
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup California walnuts, chopped
- 1 bottle (750 ml.) Chardonnay wine
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Remove and discard any tough, woody ends from the asparagus spears, then cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Blanch in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 4 minutes, until just tender, then drain well in a colander. Run cold water over the asparagus to cool it, then set aside to drain while you continue.
- Thinly slice the white and tender green parts of the leek. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the sliced leeks, and cook gently, covered, for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the rice, walnuts and wine, then boil over moderately high heat until the wine has reduced to about 1/2 cup. (As a clue, at this point the reduced wine will not quite cover the solid ingredients.)
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Add the cooked asparagus and stir for a moment. Puree the soup, using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender or food processor, until it looks very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The soup may be made ahead and reheated.