Asparagus Bisque with Bay Scallops

Creamy asparagus soup topped with sautéed bay scallops, a sprinkle of chives, and golden breadcrumbs
February 01, 2017


In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. When hot, add the leeks and sauté, stirring until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and stir and cook 1 minute more.

Add the broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a simmer until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Purée the mixture in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, then return to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.)

Whisk in the crème fraîche, lemon juice, and cayenne. Season the bisque with salt to taste. (Soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over medium heat.) Return pot to very low heat to keep warm while finishing the soup.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining tablespoon of butter and the canola oil. When hot, add scallops, and cook until light golden brown and just cooked through, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side, depending on their size. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls. Place a few scallops atop each serving, and garnish with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs and chives.

About this recipe

“Hadley, Massachusetts—next door to Amherst, where I live—has proudly called itself the asparagus capital of the U.S. since the 1930s. Due to its sandy soil and cool New England climate, Hadley and several surrounding towns produced some of the country’s finest stalks. In the 1970s, a fungus took out many of these asparagus crops, but there are still farmers who continue to grow beautiful verdant spears, which in May and June appear in our grocery stores and outdoor markets. This seasonal harvest was the inspiration for a creamy asparagus soup topped with sautéed bay scallops, a sprinkle of chives, and golden breadcrumbs. I like the mildly sweet taste and size of bay scallops, but if you can’t find them, sea scallops can be cut into quarters and used in their place.” – Betty Rosbottom in Soup Nights

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  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups (about 2 large) finely chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 2 lbs, medium asparagus, tough ends broken off and discarded and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 lb bay scallops or 10 – 12 medium sea scallops (quartered with side muscles removed and discarded), patted dry
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
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