One Last Wintry Soup

21 03 2013

Lately, I’ve been working on clearing out the stockpile of root vegetables from the CSA in my refrigerator.  I turned a backlog of potatoes, turnips, black radishes, parsnips, and leeks into a lovely vegetarian tartiflette (or veggiflette, as it was dubbed around here).  I’ve got plans for the approximately five kilos of carrots – I’m going to make this lentil hummus and serve it with a mountain of carrot sticks for a party this weekend.  I’d been meaning to make this Jerusalem artichoke soup for a while – I remembered that I had once made one with a little miso and that it was delightful – and then I got a box of shiitake mushrooms and their fate was sealed with the topinambours.

I glanced at Robuchon’s recipe for topinambour soup, and he suggested caramelizing a bit of honey with them before adding the liquid.  I thought a touch of sweetness sounded right, but I only have really strong, unique-flavored honeys at the moment, and I didn’t want to muddle the flavor too much.  A flash of inspiration hit me, surely by way of my dear friend Hannah: maple syrup!  I think it hit just the right note.

topinambour-shiitakesoup

It is probably one of the healthiest things I’ve made all winter – with so much flavor from the topinambours and the shiitakes, and a velvety texture from the potatoes (yeah, I snuck some potatoes in there, too… and some leeks) it didn’t even need a drop of cream to finish it off, just a sprinkling of wonderful meaty mushrooms.

In slightly related news, I am pleased as punch to announce my participation in Ann Mah’s fun and helpful Tuesday Dinner series on her blog.  I shared one of my favorite clean-out-the-vegetable-drawer recipes, a mouthwatering spicy Indian dal.

Now here’s to warmer days and spring vegetables!

Sunchoke Soup with Miso and Shiitake

Earthy, hearty, and oh-so-healthy, this soup warms chilly nights. If you wanted to serve it with poached eggs or grilled tofu to up the protein content, well, I think that would be a lovely idea. Jerusalem artichokes are also known as sunchokes or, in France, topinambours.

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
1½ lbs. / 700 g Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed clean and cut into chunks
3 small potatoes, scrubbed and roughly diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. miso
2 tsp. maple syrup
1½ quarts / 1½ liters water

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
9 oz. / 250 g shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
splash of sherry
splash of soy sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes, season again, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown. Add the miso and maple syrup and stir to coat the vegetables evenly. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms release their water, the water evaporates, and the mushrooms begin to brown. Deglaze the pan with a splash each of sherry and soy sauce, and continue cooking until the liquid has once more evaporated. Scrape half the mushrooms into the soup pot and save the rest for garnish. For the most mushroom flavor, pour about ½ cup / 120 ml water into the skillet and scrape up all the brown fond from the bottom of the pan. Tip this into the soup pot as well.
  3. When the vegetables are soft, purée the soup, either in batches in a traditional blender or directly in the pot with an immersion blender. (You know which way I go.) If it’s thicker than you want, thin it out with a little water. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve piping hot with a few of the reserved mushrooms spooned on top.

Serves 4-6.

On this day in 2008: Baking Extravaganza, Act III (in which I make molten chocolate cakes in a toaster oven)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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Winter Vegetable Mystery Box

5 03 2009

Back in my culinary school days, we used to get at least one “mystery box” assignment per term.  I always kind of enjoyed them, because it required me to come up with something beautiful and delicious on the fly, without relying on specific recipes.  (Of course, sometimes it was stressful, like when I drew strawberries, chocolate, and mint, plotted out an elaborate dessert, and then went to the walk-in only to discover that there were no strawberries!  Luckily, blueberries made an easy substitution.) Anyway, I like to think of my CSA panier as a weekly, stress-free mystery box.  So far, I’d say it’s been working out pretty well.

The layered look

One of the more esoteric vegetables we’ve been getting lately is the topinambour, or Jerusalem artichoke.  These knobbly tubers have the look of dark pink or purplish overgrown ginger roots.  I took the time to peel them the first time I cooked them, then determined (with a little help from my friend, Joël Robuchon) that it wasn’t worth the effort.  After baking them into a savory clafoutis and puréeing them into a spicy curried soup, a box of unused lasagna noodles idling on the shelf inspired me to try a topinambour lasagna.  Fresh béchamel sauce, sautéed leeks (also from the panier), some grated Comté, and a handful of toasted pine nuts completed the picture.

Topinambour lasagna

You know you’ve done something right when you tell your husband “We’re having the same thing we had for dinner last night,” and the response is, “Oh, cool!”

* * * * *

Speaking of CSAs, I have written another article for Secrets of Paris, this time about some of the various organic produce delivery options available in Paris.  The information should be useful for residents and visitors alike!

Greenmarket Alternatives

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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