"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

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--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custards

Dear readers, I have so very much to tell you about...tea-smoked chicken, dark chocolate shortbread, rosemary walnuts...but all of that will have to wait because I must tell you, today, about Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custards. M. said yesterday that she thought it was the best thing she'd ever had in her life and I think I have to agree with her. It is, at the very least, in my top ten.

Here's a photo by Miki Duisterhof:

Mine looked a little more haphazardly garnished and without all the fancy table linen, but the idea is the same--a silky, salty, nutty hot custard in the middle of a creamy smooth soup with perfectly steamed asparagus tips here and there.

If you'll allow me to digress a little bit into why this is such a brilliant dish, I think it's because you get three distinct textures and flavors--salt, sweet and neutral for flavor and custard, liquid, and soft crunch for texture.

But you know how it feels in your stomach when something hot and soothing has just gotten down there and you feel like you have a little pocket warmer right under your ribcage? It's a great feeling on a cold fall day.

Anyway, you must try this dish. I insist. Use a blender for your soup (be careful) and let it run for a long time to get the best, smoothest texture. And don't bother fishing the asparagus out of the pot and cutting off the tips--just cut them off ahead of time and microwave them for three minutes--they'll be perfect.

If you want to be truly organized, do what I did and make the milk/egg mixture the day before--you can even prepare the ramekins. Then just pop them into the oven in a hot water bath and let them cook while you make the soup.

And please use real parm-reg!! No plastic supermarket parmesan--it's not the same, and the five bucks you save isn't worth it.

I'm already thinking of other soup-custard combos---maybe a cream of mushroom soup with seared mushrooms as a garnish? Or maybe that French Pea Soup with a few lightly steamed peas... Or, if you wanted to go with an Asian flavor profile, you could add some shrimp or scallop to the custard, go with a miso broth and fresh scallions with a dark sesame oil drizzle...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am glad I read this post today. I did not know how to properly prep asparagus for soup and have been planning to make asparagus and crooked neck squash soup this evening. I will forego the parm custards, this time. Maybe I'll use my ramekins to bake flourless chocolate cakes!