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.