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Roasted Asparagus and Shrimp Chowder

Roasted Asparagus and Shrimp Chowder
Roasting the asparagus and shrimp gives an intense flavor to this colorful chunky soup. Reserve the feathery tops from the fennel bulb and use them as a garnish.

Ingredients:

  • 10 large asparagus spears, tough ends removed
  • 20 large shrimp, about 1 lb. total, peeled and
     deveined
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 1 leek, including 2 inches of green, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 russet potato, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated skimmed milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 425°F.

Place the asparagus and the shrimp on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat them with the oil and then spread out in a single layer.

Roast until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Turn the asparagus over and continue to roast until just tender, about 8 minutes more. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch lengths.

Meanwhile, cut off the stems, feathery tops and any bruised outer stalks from the fennel bulb. Reserve the tops. Cut away and discard the core, then chop the bulb; set aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the fennel, leek, red pepper and herbes de Provence and sauté until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the stock and potato and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes.

Pour in the milk and bring the soup back to a simmer. Add the shrimp and asparagus and stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into warmed bowls. Garnish each serving with the reserved fennel tops. Serve hot.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Fresh & Light, by Lane Crowther (Time-Life Books, 1998).