On the Line: Ryan O'Melveny Wilson of Five Crowns and SideDoor, Part Three

On the Line: Ryan O'Melveny Wilson of Five Crowns and SideDoor, Part Three
Photo by Mary Pastrana

The new spring menu at Five Crowns debuted last week, so chef Ryan O'Melveny Wilson's recipe was seasonally appropriate for our interview. We pointed out his usage of metric measurements (and the notion that some readers might have a problem with it), and Wilson had this to say, "I mean, if they do, this could be an interesting culinary tip. I would encourage home cooks to do what they can to get away from volume measurements. I think it leads to problems. I think if you get comfortable with a scale, and with weighing everything, that's the way to go. And metrics, as we know, it's just about moving decimal points. Much more difficult when you start talking about dividing tablespoons and cups, you know?"

For this impressive springtime soup, we are in fact making two soups, one from white asparagus and one from green asparagus. As long as the soups are of the same consistency and are poured at the same time, your finished presentation will surely wow your guests. To begin, you will make a leek stock.

Chilled Asparagus Soup, White and Green


Leek stock ingredients:

2 kg leek whites, sliced
100 g olive oil
2 bay leaves
10 sprigs fresh thyme
10 g Kosher salt
300 g white wine
3 kg water

Leek stock directions:

Slice the leeks in half, then into 0.5-inch half-moons. Wash thoroughly. Remove from the water and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the clean leeks, season with salt, and add in the bay leaves and thyme.

Sweat the leeks over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often to avoid any coloring.

Once the leeks are translucent, add the white wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the water and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Strain through a fine chinois.

Cover, label and refrigerate until needed.

Once the leek stock has chilled thoroughly, it should be very cold. Begin making the two asparagus soups.

Green Asparagus Soup ingredients:

1.2 kg large green asparagus
7 L water
3 L leek stock, chilled
50 g sparkling-wine vinegar
200 g Kosher salt, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Green Asparagus Soup directions:

Bring the water to a boil and add all the Kosher salt.

Cut the asparagus into 0.5-inch pieces. Add asparagus to the boiling, seasoned water and cook for 1 minute.

Remove the asparagus from the water and place in the blender. Add the cold leek stock and vinegar and purée until smooth.

Pass through a fine chinois and place the soup in an ice bath to chill thoroughly. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cover, label and refrigerate until needed for service.

White Asparagus Soup ingredients:

1 kg white asparagus, peeled
7L water
2 L leek stock, chilled
50g sparkling-wine vinegar
100g white sugar
200g Kosher salt, to taste

White Asparagus Soup directions:

Bring the water to a boil, then add sugar and Kosher salt.

Cut the asparagus into 0.5-inch pieces. Add asparagus to the boiling, seasoned water and cook for 1 minute.

Remove the asparagus from the water and place in the blender. Add the cold leek stock and vinegar and purée until smooth.

Pass through a fine chinois and place the soup in an ice bath to chill thoroughly. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cover, label and refrigerate until needed for service.

To serve:

Put both of your soups into small pitchers when you are ready for service. Chill your serving bowls. Slowly but consistently pour the soups into the bowls, and be sure to maintain the pour at a steady rate. If executed properly, finished soup should be presented as half white, half brilliant green. Garnish the soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of fine sea salt and a crack of black pepper.

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