Creamy Asparagus Soup with Seared Scallops
- 1 lb. asparagus
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 shallots, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups firmly packed chopped spinach
- 4 oz. fresh sea or bay scallops
Bring a large pot two-thirds full of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the chopped asparagus and cook until bright green and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or long-handled strainer, transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When the asparagus is cool, drain and set aside.
In a heavy soup pot over medium heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter. When the butter is just hot, add the shallots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cream and stock. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for 2 minutes more.
Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pass the soup through a chinois into a clean saucepan and keep warm over very low heat.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper. In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. When it is nearly smoking, add the scallops and cook until evenly browned and slightly translucent in the center, about 2 minutes per side. Divide the scallops among 2 warmed soup bowls.
Add the reserved asparagus tips to the sauté pan and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into the bowls, garnish with the asparagus tips and serve immediately.