Asparagus soup and the pros and cons of not following a recipe.

It may be time to say goodbye to the Red Bowl Series. But before we part ways with our dear friend, let’s say thank you with a big delicious bowl of soup: asparagus soup. While some may find another asparagus recipe excessive, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to fill your fridge (and stuff your face) with these delightful spring spears.

And not to worry, you will likely see the red bowl on this blog many more times in the future. I just think it’s about time I transition to a plate, at least for a little while.

Now for the recipe. I admit, it’s more a list of suggestions than a step-by-step guide. For the real steps, click here (a classic from one of my favorite new recipe sites, food52.com). Turns out, I made a few too many tweaks this time. I’ll fill you in on my changes and how I veered off course, but I can’t say the end result was entirely worth bragging about.

The funny thing is, I was the kid in class who always followed directions. Apparently, when it comes to recipes, I’m some kind of rebel. Sometimes I make tweaks without even realizing it. Usually it’s little things like replacing full fat milk with skim or regular pasta with whole wheat.

Other times, it’s a matter of desperation. I’m sure it’s happened to us all before. That moment when you are standing in front of an open fridge frantically searching for an ingredient you thought you had. An ingredient that conveniently disappeared the second you needed it.

Half the time, those moments lead to panic, last minute trips to the store or the desire to pack up your knives and trade them in for a spoon and big bowl of ice cream. Other times, those are the moments when improvisation leads to discovery. They can be some of your proudest moments in the kitchen. In those moments, you are given the chance to use your experience and creativity to come up with a solution that you may have never thought of otherwise. That’s not what happened here.

I suggest sticking with the original recipe for now until I revisit my doctored up version to land on a recipe worth sharing. But if you’d like to see what went wrong, here are the tweaks I made (not necessarily bad ones, just a few too many):

  • For starters, I switched out the scallions for leeks. Not a major change. Not a bad change either. I just took pity on the lone leek sitting in the crisper losing its luster. The poor guy had to be eaten.
  • To thicken the soup without cream, I used a trick I’ve tried before: adding a slice of whole wheat bread (crusts removed) before blending with an immersion blender. With nothing but stale bread on hand, I had to improvise. I remembered seeing a gazpacho recipe where the day-old bread was soaked in water beforehand. I decided to step up the flavor quotient and soak the bread in some buttermilk for a few minutes before adding it to the soup. In theory, I love an extra touch of sour in soups.
  • Finally, I needed a little heat, and an open can of chipotles in adobo sauce was calling my name. I added two pieces and blended away.

The end result? A lesson in following directions. It’s not that the soup was bad. My husband actually really liked it. It’s just that I don’t think I’d make it again. Truthfully, after eating it two days in a row, I didn’t even want to eat it again. It got old quick. The smokiness of the chipotle was far too overpowering a flavor for a delicate thing like asparagus.

For someone who obviously loves asparagus, I’m surprised I chose to mask the ingredient rather than honor it. Simplicity is a beautiful thing. It’s fun to experiment with what’s left in the fridge, but it’s a lot more fun when the scatterbrained preparation doesn’t muddle the flavors. Next time, I’ll stick with the basics first.

Here are two bonus asparagus recipes to make up for it (also from food52.com). Enjoy!

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