Saturday, April 19, 2008

Making it Simple

I opened up the April issue of Gourmet magazine and was intrigued by the picture of the Asparagus Ravioli in Parmesan Broth. The soup looked delicious and fresh and matched my desire to find to new recipes that could use the fresh asparagus which are just coming into season. So I flipped to the back to see how to make it. Of course this is Gourmet magazine so the first thing it called for was making fresh pasta dough followed by making fresh chicken stock infused with a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind and then making your own ravioli using, of course, a pasta machine to roll out the dough. OK that sounds absolutely wonderful except for the fact I do not have 2 1/2 hours to make a first course for dinner tonight. So I got to thinking about what I could do to make this delicious sounding soup in an abbreviated version. Below is the recipe I came up with. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Ravioli and Asparagus Soup
(Makes 4 first course soup servings in about 20 minutes)

1/2 lbs asparagus (roughly half a bunch)

1 9-oz package fresh refrigerated cheese ravioli

64-oz chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock if desired)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cracked black pepper

*Pour chicken stock into a medium to large pot and place on high heat.

*Rinse asparagus. Cut off the bottom portion of the stalks (roughly the bottom 1/3 of the stalks ) and discard. Cut the top portion of the stalk into 2 inch pieces. Set aside until ready to use.

*Once the stock comes to a medium boil reduce heat to medium. Add ravioli and cook according to package directions (roughly 7 minutes).

*When the pasta has 2 minutes left to cook, add cut asparagus pieces to the pot and slowly sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese. Stir well and continue cooking remaining 2 minutes. Season soup with cracked black pepper to taste.

*Ladle into bowls and serve hot.

Voila you have taste fresh homemade soup in minutes - not hours!

Now please do not mistake my recipe makeover as a slight to Gourmet Magazine. My recipe is really more of a tribute to the great work the creative culinary team does over there. The magazine does an outstanding job of delivering deliciously gourmet recipes for me to drool over. Every month it inspires me to try to new flavor combinations and to step out of my familiar cooking patterns to try new things. However, the truly hot on-trend wave in cooking in the average American home right now is semi-homemade cooking. Recipes that use a little creative substitution of pre-made ingredients to make a nearly gourmet version of a meal that mom can bring to her family's dinner table any night of the week. While the true die-hard cooks will happily do scratch-cooking most of us don't have time to do it, at least not on a regular basis. So if you are putting together a collection of recipes for middle America rather than chef and gourmet cook type people, remember to keep it simple, quick and help the consumer take timing saving short cuts whenever possible.

No comments: