I often get asked why my website is called No Recipes when in fact there’s nothing but recipes on it. It’s not that I have anything against recipes; it’s just that I don’t think anyone should feel bound by them.
Once you understand the underlying mechanics of why you add particular ingredients and prepare them in a certain manner, recipes become templates that you can customize to suit your tastes rather than a strict set of instructions.
Despite her very prescriptive recipes, I think Julia Child understood this. In her seminal book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child includes three variations of her Potage Parmentier recipe followed by a section which lists vegetables that can be added or substituted to come up with dozens of variations.
I’ve come up with an updated version of the classic, but like Julia’s recipe, you can play around with the ingredients and proportions to make the perfect soup for the season!
I used asparagus in this recipe because it’s what looked good at the market, but you could really make this with just about any vegetable that’s in season. Replace the asparagus for corn in late summer, substitute in mushrooms in fall, and in winter you could use root vegetables. Likewise, the onions could be replaced with leeks, shallots, scallions or ramps.
While I used a 50/50 ratio of milk to stock, you could lean heavier towards the milk for a creamier soup or shift the balance towards the stock for something lighter. Make it vegan by using olive oil, vegetable stock and soymilk, or go the other direction by adding bacon or duck fat.
Like Julia’s Potage, I’ve used a starch to thicken this soup instead of a roux. This not only makes it gluten-free it simplifies the process. Unlike Juila’s recipe, I’ve used cooked short grain rice (a.k.a. leftovers), but you could use potatoes, corn tortillas, or bread as alternatives, depending on what you have on hand.
Potage Crème d’Asperges
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 6 ounces asparagus, roughly chopped
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup cooked short grain rice
- salt and pepper to taste
- white truffle oil (optional)
- Add the butter to medium-sized saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft and just starting to brown around the edges.
- Add the asparagus, milk, chicken stock and rice. Simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes, or until the asparagus and rice are soft.
- Pour the soup into a heat-safe blender, cover the lid with a towel, and holding the lid down firmly with the towel, start blending on low speed and slowly increase to high.
- You need to be very careful when blending hot liquids because the sudden release of steam when the blender is started has the tendency to blow the top off the blender spraying you and your kitchen with hot liquid. If you don’t have a heat-safe blender or you’re worried about making a mess, just let the soup cool a bit before adding it to the blender.
- Once the soup is smooth, return it to the pot and reheat over medium-low heat. Salt and pepper to taste. For an extra decadent soup, finish the soup with a few drops of white truffle oil after its been plated.
Yield: 4 small servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.