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Asparagus Soup with Crab Crostini

This simple, fresh-tasting asparagus soup is paired with hearty crab crostini, which are updated versions of open-faced crab melts. Choose slender stalks of asparagus for this dish. Sweeter and less fibrous than the thick ones, they will produce a lovely, silky soup when puréed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced spring onions or sweet onion
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 3/4 lb. cooked fresh lump or drained canned crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell fragments
  • 3 Tbs. minced green onion
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 8 slices artisan-style sourdough bread, each 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 cup grated pecorino or dry jack cheese

Directions:

Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the spring onions and cook, stirring frequently and reducing the heat as needed to prevent browning, until the onions are soft and wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, asparagus and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Simmer, uncovered, until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the crab, green onion, lemon juice, mayonnaise and mustard. Season well with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the orange juice and season with salt.

Preheat a broiler.

Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast one side under the broiler. Turn the slices over and top evenly with the crab mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese and broil just until the cheese is melted.

Ladle the soup into 4 bowls and serve each with 2 crostini. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).