A Polymath’s Guide to the Culinary Galaxy

By: Aryen Moore-Alston
Executive Chef/Owner
Sweet Potato Baby

All throughout my life, I’ve been told that I can be anything I want to be. The problem with being told that is that I actually believed it. That truth: those encouraging words from family, friends and mentors that motivated me and helped push me for all of these years also gave me hives and left me wanting to run around screaming like Macaulay Culkin on Home Alone.

On one hand, I feel unstoppable and courageous and on the other hand I feel confused, stressed out and unfocused because in thinking that I could be anything I ever wanted to be, I chose to be, well, everything. *shrugs shoulders* No one told me I was eventually going to have to choose at least one thing to master in life so the fruits of my labor could take root. (Thanks, Mom!)

Up until my late twenties, I considered myself to be a polymath. I’ve always loved learning about everything and have always been drawn to a significant number of different careers and hobbies. I mean, one of my goals at age seven was to be a genius. Is that even a goal you can try to attain??? Well, leave it to me, I tried and I tried very hard.

But in my quest to be the ultimate 21st century Renaissance woman or the next Einstein, I happened to overlook something that was right under my nose, the culinary arts.

I’ve always loved food; and no, not in the gratuitous way that we think of food. I look at food as one would look at art in a museum. I study the colors, the presentation, the smell, the flavors, the history behind the meal. It’s my thing. (I’m laughing because all of my life I’ve wondered what my “thing” is and now I know; it’s this.)

So in celebration of trying to do it all, have it all and be it all, I’ve created a recipe that I like to call “A Polymath’s Guide to the Culinary Galaxy” or more simply put “Asparagus-Potato Soup.”

Asparagus-Potato Soup

Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-in lengths
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-in cubes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into slim wedges
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

1. Place all the ingredients except cheese in a large saucepan. Bring the liquid to a simmer over moderate heat, then adjust the heat so that it bubbles gently. Cover the pot and simmer the broth for 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.
2. Cool the broth, still covered, for 20 minutes.
3. Puree the broth and the vegetables in batches, in a blender or in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade.
4. Return the puree to the saucepan, set it over moderate heat and bring the soup just to serving temperature.
5. Ladle the soup into heated bowls and top each portion with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese.

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