Saturday, March 26, 2011

Asparagus Soup Daydreams

Greetings from a tour bus somewhere in the middle of northern Texas! I’ve just begun a 3-week concert tour of the Southeast with Harry Connick Jr. and his big band, and I’m thrilled to be the “string boss” on the road with these guys. I’m sure I’ll have lots of stories by the end of the tour, musically or otherwise, and there are some great food cities on our itinerary, including Austin and New Orleans. However, I think it’s fair to say that our first stop in Thackerville, Oklahoma falls into the Culinary Wasteland category more than anything. In fact, the food options there were so abysmal that I made a dinner out of Airborne tablets dissolved in water and a ginger chocolate bar as my mind wandered back to the Asparagus Soup I’d made on Wednesday before I left town. Sometimes a daydream has to be enough to sustain you.

This recipe comes from Carla Hall, one of my all-time favorite contestants on Top Chef. You have to love someone who cooks from the heart the way she clearly does, and in watching her compete in both Season 5 and now Top Chef All-Stars, I’ve often wished that I could eat Carla’s food. I was delighted to find her asparagus soup recipe in the March issue of Food&Wine magazine.

Unlike the slow-simmering soups associated with cold winter months, this bright verdant soup comes together in a snap. After doing a quick sauté of onion and asparagus pieces, the veggies are simmered in broth until they lose their bite and then pureed in a blender till silky smooth. A glug of cream turns the soup even more velvety, and fresh tarragon adds a beguiling note.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where I've Been...

Each new year begins with verve and the determination to tackle the world. In setting new goals for the year, I always have an earnest desire to write/play/cook/exercise/blog/ photograph/organize more. And eat more vegetables. I’m consistent in my goals, if nothing else.

I’ve been good with practicing and exercising consistently and I am eating more vegetables than ever, but I’ve had a hard time blogging in recent months. Perhaps you’ve noticed, if you’re someone who regularly checks this blog. Part of it is that life exploded after the big “60 Minutes: Endless Memory” story came out in December, and it’s taken me this many weeks to regain my equilibrium and discover what my new “normal” is as I’m being stretched in all sorts of different directions these days.

The other factor in my non-blogging is that much of my energy has been devoted to riding a major health&fitness kick the past few months, growing stronger and more confident while losing nearly fifty pounds in the process. I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever before, easily able to run five miles at a stretch or bound up the dozen flights of stairs to my apartment if I feel like it. I’m thrilled beyond belief that I can finally fit into clothes that have hung in my closet, unworn, since I was in my late twenties. I’m sitting on a plane while writing this, thinking how strange it was to haul my 48-pound suitcase onto the scale this morning, tangibly grasping the exact amount of extra weight I had been lugging around for far too long.