Monday, October 31, 2011

Carla Hall's Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Shortbread Coins

I just realized that the last post was my 100th one on this blog, even though my mom commented on this milestone several days ago. Maybe I should've made The French Laundry post my 100th one. But you know what, I think Marukame Udon suits number 100 just fine. Anyways, here's to at least 100 more. And thanks to everyone who's come along for the ride.

While asparagus isn't in season now, I've been meaning to share this post since asparagus season. And while I would've loved for today's post to be something festive with pumpkin or a mountain of candy, I'm willing to overlook a Halloween-driven post for this soup. I know, serious backlog on posts since early summer.

If you haven't noticed already, I have a little bit of an unhealthy obsession with trying recipes by Top Chef contestants. I guess the main reason for this obsession is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Top Chef, and not being able to taste what's on the screen just isn't fair. So what do I do? I cook the contestants' recipes to see for myself.

This time, I decided to try out Carla Hall's Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Shortbread Coins. On Top Chef, Carla was known for healthy, hearty, and comforting flavors, all of which just happen to agree with my favorite types of food. Sometimes the healthy part of the trifecta gets sacrificed, but when all three align, that's definitely something worth tasting.

The recipe starts out with parmesan shortbread coins. I know, a huge stick of butter and parmesan probably aren't the healthiest things in the world, but, spoiler alert, the parmesan shortbread coins aren't even necessary. The soup stands perfectly well on its own. But you know what, some parmesan shortbread coins can't hurt. Especially when the coins contain thyme and lemon zest.

After some paddling, combining, and kneading, the dough should look something like this.

After refrigerating the dough log for half an hour, slice the log into a good number of coins and place them on a baking sheet. Send them off to the oven and start working on the oh-so-delicious soup.

The soup definitely features asparagus, but the recipe also calls for some onion, butter, and chicken broth.

After around 20 minutes, you get to throw in a healthy portion of parsley and tarragon. The tarragon is key in making the flavors of this soup pop. Next, take an immersion blender or transfer the soup to a regular blender to purée the soup.

At this point, the aroma of the coins should fill the kitchen with buttery, cheesy goodness. Once they've reached a nice golden brown, take out the coins and transfer them to a cooling rack.

Once the coins have cooled enough, put the finishing touches on the soup. Add some heavy cream, peas, salt, and white pepper to taste.

The end product should be a creamy, hearty soup that melts the distinct flavors of asparagus and tarragon into the corners of your mouth. The white pepper allows for a milder peppery taste and the peas add some slight texture to the soup.

Don't be surprised if you forget to dip in the parmesan shortbread coins. I did. When eaten together, though, there is a nice contrast in texture and flavor between the cheese and the asparagus and the lemon zest and the tarragon. While extremely comforting, to say the least, I think I still preferred just having the soup on its own.

Needless to say, I'm excited to learn some more of Carla Hall's recipes. The soup itself really showcases her ability to limit the need for unhealthy ingredients (even though next time, I might even try using olive oil instead of butter and a homemade vegetable broth instad of chicken broth), to bring out the core flavors of select ingredients, and to make ingredients that aren't widely considered comforting, comforting.

Relatively short and sweet today. Happy Completely-Unrelated-Blog-Post Halloween!


  1. I love this top chef recipe:
    It sounds kind of gross, but it tastes amazing. It was Elia's from the breakfast on the beach challenge.

  2. Awesome! Sounds good to me. I'll have to check that out at some point. Thanks, Emily!


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