Nutty Winter White Soup

Two years ago, I took a vacation to India and spent two weeks at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. As someone who habitually reads cookbooks as bedtime stories, I was pleased to purchase “The Yoga Cookbook” in the ashram gift shop, and read through the (sattvic, i.e. very healthy) recipes between our evening meditation sessions and 10 p.m. lights-out curfew.

The Yoga Cookbook

The Yoga Cookbook

I pulled the book back off the shelf the other day to finally try making the infamous “Sivananda Cookies” they often sell at the yoga center. In turn, I ended up flipping through the recipes again, and found an interesting one: Nutty Parsnip Soup, which calls for 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter as its “nutty” element.

This got me thinking. What about tahini? Could it be any good in a white-vegetable winter soup? I do, of course, having a thing for celeriac. And I love the woodsy, surprising flavor of parsnips.

Tahini and sesame seeds

Tahini and sesame seeds

So here, I give you, a warming winter soup rounded out with tahini. Happy Sunday.

Nutty Winter White Soup

Nutty Winter White Soup

 

Nutty Winter White Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients
thick pat of unsalted butter (about 8 grams)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 parsnips, peeled, roughly chopped
750 grams (1.6 lbs) celeriac, skin removed, cut into cubes
6 cups hot water OR homemade stock
1.5 bouillon cubes (chicken or vegetable) – omit if using stock
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
3 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
black pepper (optional, for garnish)
1/3 cup chopped cashews or peanuts (optional, for garnish)

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, 4-6 minutes. Add the parsnips and celeriac and let them heat up a bit in the pot, stirring, 2 minutes.

Pour hot water or stock over vegetables, add bouillon if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in salt and pepper. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.

Once vegetables are fully cooked, take the pot off the heat and mix the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in the tahini, and serve topped with salt and pepper, and chopped cashews or peanuts.

Nutty Winter White Soup

Nutty Winter White Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Transatlantic Chowder

I read the Wikipedia article about Quahogs and I am transported to another place and time.

It is the summer of 2002 and I am 17 years old. I’ve just graduated from high school. In addition to my usual part-time job at an upscale local supermarket, I’ve taken another job at what people in my part of the world affectionately refer to as a “clam shack.”

The Cove Fish Market was a small store selling fresh fish and lobsters in the front, and a clam shack in the back. I’d spend hours every day spooning ladles of chowder into Styrofoam cups (the clear-broth, “Rhode Island style” was home made. The creamy-broth, “New England style” came in frozen.)

The team at the Cove was a mixture of fresh-faced, long-haired college girls home for the summer, and rough-edged, part-time alcoholic pot head townie guys who had started out as dishwashers.

Paul, who owned the Cove was at least 80 years old, made the best chowder I’d ever had. I didn’t care for “clear-broth” chowder one bit until I started working there. The soft blend of the broth with the cubed potatoes – the finely chopped Quahog clams – I asked my mother what she thought the secret was. “I hear he uses salt pork as a base.”

Only one guy on staff knew the recipe. The chowder needed to be prepared a day in advance, and Jay would start it on an outdoor gas hob behind the kitchen. Onions would sweat under the hot August sun in salt pork fat. I was too young to get a good sense of the recipe, and too busy spooning chowder and filling orders for lobster rolls and fried clams to ever get a good idea of his method – and for years I kept telling myself that clam chowder was one of those things I’d get around to making “one of these days.”

I was recently issued a cooking challenge to finally tackle clam chowder – albeit, involving goat’s cheese and chorizo. I give you this – which turned out smooth and silky, and will definitely be made again in this house before winter’s end.

Clam remnants

Transatlantic Chowder

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Sunday Soup: La Trompe-Saison

Celeriac is one of my favorite vegetables. A smooth, nutty flavor – it is filling and satisfying like a potato, but with less than half the calories and a fraction of the carbohydrates.

I usually associate it with winter – roasted in a tray with carrots and parsnips, or boiled in milk and blended into a puree. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t grow in the summer – but its flavor is so often paired with winter vegetables than with the tomatoes and eggplants of summer.

Brainstorming between the market stalls at the Marché Aligre, I decided the newly harvested celeriac would go well with radishes – still available in abundance and on sale at €2 for 2 bundles.

This summer I have experimented with adding radish and turnip greens to soups and serving them cold. First try, too stringy – I learned that you must cut the stems off and only use the leafy green part. Then, too bland – needed more salt, and a bouillon cube. The third time was the charm, with homemade chicken broth and plenty of coarse grey sea salt from Noirmoutier.

The greens need to be very thoroughly washed – I find three water baths in the salad spinner to be the bare minimum. Dirt particles and small stones stick easily to the thick leaves, which have an almost fur-like surface. I also find that the soup needs to be made the same day I purchase the radishes – otherwise, the leaves go limp and yellow in the fridge.

 Soupe Trompe-Saison

La Soupe Trompe-Saison

Ingredients:

35 grams (2 Tbsp.) unsalted butter

½ bundle or 130 grams (4.5 oz) radishes (red or white/pink)

700 grams (1.5 lbs) celeriac, skin cut off

300 grams (10.5 oz) potatoes (two medium)

1 bay leaf

500cl (2 cups) chicken stock (homemade is best!)

greens from one bundle of radishes (well-washed)

coarse grey sea salt

 

for serving:

crème fraîche

thinly sliced radishes

salt, pepper

 

Method:

  • Wash the radishes and cut them in halves or quarters, roughly
  • Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat
  • Soften the radishes in the butter for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using red radishes, the color will fade while they cook
  • Chop the celeriac into rough cubes and add to the pot. Let it sweat and soften with the radishes, 5-8 minutes
  • Once the celeriac and radishes are soft, add the potato, peeled and cut into rough cubes. Let it warm up in the pot, then cover with the chicken stock and add the bay leaf
  • Add salt to your liking: my eyeball says about 1-2 teaspoons
  • Cover the pot and let it come to a boil. Stir, reduce heat, and let cook about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft
  • Remove the bay leaf and add the washed radish greens, cooking for about 3 minutes more
  • Mix the soup with a hand blender off the heat. Serve hot with just salt and pepper, or cooled the next day with a dollop of crème fraîche, thinly sliced radishes, and salt and pepper.