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Roasted Asparagus & Garlic Soup with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

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If you haven't taken advantage of Spring's bounty yet with all of Lisa's yummy asparagus recipes like the super easy frittata or barley asparagus salad, then you may want to try this creamy soup. I'm a huge fan of bisques and this one not only made the house smell delicious while cooking (thanks to the roasted garlic!), but it also tasted pretty darn good too.

I got the inspiration for the recipe the other night when we went to dinner at The Blue Moon in Rehoboth Beach and I had a creamy sunchoke soup garnished with candied pumpkin seeds. It was so good I could have licked the bowl completely clean. Thankfully, I didn't (folks seem to frown upon farm animal style eating at fine dining establishments).

Anywho, the total twist of ingredients turned out great (swapping sunchokes for asparagus and pumpkin seeds for sunflower). The sweet/salty combination was definitely different and the roasted sunflower seeds taste good all on their own.

Roasted Asparagus & Garlic Soup with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

For Soup
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 head garlic (with the outside edges peeled and tops cut off)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
... cup flour
16 ounces chicken stock
8 ounces half and half (I used Trickling Springs)
a few dashes thyme
salt, to taste

For Sunflower Seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds (love that WGG carries these! So good sprinkled on everything!)
2 tablespoons sugar
a few dashes salt
cup water
After tossing asparagus and garlic head with olive oil, roast in the oven (I did mine in my skillet in the oven) on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion in butter until translucent. Add in flour to make a roue. Stir until bubbly. Add in chicken stock, seasoning, and asparagus and garlic when it's done. To remove the garlic from the skin, just squeeze out or peel back the flaky part of the garlic to let the soft clove press through.

Let simmer for on medium for five or ten minutes. Then, with an immersion blender or your regular blender, puree mixture. If it's in your regular blender, you probably want to let it cool before doing this because otherwise hot liquid in a blender can get scary (trust me...I forgot to put the lid on tight enough). Once it's pureed, stir in half and half and let simmer (do not boil) until you are ready to serve. You can also reheat, but make sure it never gets to a boil. Garnish with roasted sunflower seeds.

Now, to make the sunflower seeds...

In a small pan on the stove, stir the water, sugar and sunflower seeds constantly over medium high heat. Once the water starts to evaporate and the sugar begins to carmelize, transfer the sunflower seeds to a cookie sheet topped with parchment paper. I lightly greased the parchment paper with olive oil, just to make sure the seeds didn't stick together too much. Then I sprinkled a little salt all over them. Roast in oven for five minutes on 400 degrees (I popped them in with my asparagus). Depending on your oven, watch the seeds, definitely don't let them burn, golden brown is ideal.

Bon Appetit!