Root Cellar Soup (and a pot of promise)

21 Mar

Saturday was a sad, draining and depressing day. One of my best friend’s mother’s had succumbed to cancer earlier in the week, and so a group of Manhattan and Brooklyn-ites headed over a bridge or through a tunnel to New Jersey for a beautiful remembrance of an amazing woman’s life.

I was tired and hungry when we got back to the city, so off we went to feast on therapeutic buttermilk battered fried green beans. I guess the boy could tell I was in no mood to think or cook, so he suggested trucking up to the farmer’s market to procure some root vege so he could make one of his famous pureed soups for me. What sane girl would say no to that?

We settled on a classic; Parsnip & Apple, but once at the market I was seduced by the Jerusalem Artichokes. As I was scrubbing the girasole, the boy was sauteing the onions and garlic and said to me, “Is there anything more full of promise than a pot of onions and garlic?” It was a nice thought at the end of a crappy, sad day, that a glug of olive oil, a few onions and crushed garlic could truly be the start of nearly any dish from around the world.

We didn’t get to eat the soup on Saturday, some group therapy was in order (read, a party) so we cooled the soup, grabbed some Gin and headed out into the night.

But Sunday was all about relaxing. With the soup bubbling away on the stove, I cued up disc 2 of Bleak House (another series I had missed during TV Free February), decanted a bottle of wine and got set to do nothing. It was blissful.

I don’t think my wine choice was perfect for the meal, a 2000 Chateau Ste. Anne from Bandol in Provence. It smelled lovely, all flowers and leather in the glass, but tasted a little tight and tannic with the soup. Perhaps I decanted it too late. But, after a little time to breathe, it eventually went very, very well with a little Wallace & Gromit.

Head below the jump for the recipe for this easy, soothing soup.

Root Cellar Soup

prep time: 45 minutes ~ cooking time: 45 minutes

  • olive oil
  • 8 small or 6 large Cippolini Onions, sliced
  • 1 head Garlic, crushed
  • 2 12 oz. bottles Granny Smith Apple Hard Cider
  • 1 lb. Parsnips, peeled and cut into equal sized pieces
  • 1 lb. Jerusalem Artichokes, very well scrubbed and cut into sizes similar to the Parsnips
  • 4 Apples (we used 2 Mutsu and 2 Winesaps), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 6 cups stock (we didn’t have any stock, so we used 6 cups water flavored with 1 organic, herbal bullion cube and 4 tbsps Mushroom Ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup Verjus
  • 1 tbsp Sherry Vinegar (or to taste, depending on how sweet your vege and fruit are)
  • 10 oz happy cow Half-and-Half
  • 1 tsp Corriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a very large stock pot heat a healthy glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sweat until just beginning to brown. Add the cider and cook down until nearly evaoporated. Add the parsnip, stir and cook about 2 minutes. Add the Jerusalem Artichokes, stir and cook another 2 minutes. Add the apples, stir. Add the stock. Stir, stir, stir and bring to a boil. Allow to cook about 20 minutes.

Taste the broth. Season with verjus, sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to burble away another 10 minutes. While burbling, place your seeds with a pinch of salt in your mortar and pestle and grind to a very fine powder.

Flavor the soup with a pinch of the seed mixture, stir and taste. If the flavor is too subtle, add another pinch and so on until the desired flavor is achieved. The slightly curry-meets-chili flavor should not come through too strongly, it should be subtle, slightly cloying and and mysteriously sexy. Taste again and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Turn the heat off and puree using an imersion blender to a soothing, silky texture. Add the half-and-half. Turn the heat back on to medium-low, bring the soup back to a slow boil and cook through about 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat off, spoon into a bowl and enjoy!

We garnished the soup with some grated Asiago cheese because that’s what we had in the house, but we both agree some thinly sliced shallots dredged in flour and then fried to a crisp would be an amazing garnish to this soup. A drizzle of a nut oil, like walnut or hazelnut, or grated cheddar or edam would also complement this luxurious soup.
Enjoy!

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