Happy (belated) New Year from OurLocaltopia! We are back on duty to post content that compels us (and that we hope will compel you) to shop local, cook seasonally, and to have fun and celebrate everything around us. We look forward to a great 2014 and to creating new friends, connections, neighbors, and inspiring content!
Though January is nearly through, winter still dominates the selection at the markets. And if you’re like us, you may saunter through the market daydreaming of ripe tomatoes and sweet cherries and gorgeous spring asparagus yet noticing the same winter you produce again, and again, and again. Restricted to root vegetables, apples, and the usual suspects in the cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli department. Repetition can be good, however monotony can be boring!
Trying to get inspired, wine in hand, we found inspiration from Anne Willan’s The Country Cooking of France, which offered up a fun and simple winter soup. We love the recipe because it takes some of the essential (and oft overlooked) seasonal ingredients of winter and combines them to create something really fun and likely not to have crossed your ‘buds before. The soup is homey, earthy, delightfully light colored and makes a perfect lunch or first course for dinner.
A quick note on serving this soup. Like many French soups and stews, quite a bit of character, texture and flavor is made with the addition of a crouton placed at the bottom of the bowl prior to ladling and serving the soup. The “croutes” should be cut from large pieces of sturdy bread, ideally stale. You may bake, fry, or otherwise prepare the croutes but remember – the bread is meant to soak in the soup and still retain some character, therefore take the time to make your croute right!
Please enjoy this soup as we did, and the next time you pass by some heap of root vegetables that looks boring… don’t ask yourself “why?” ask yourself “why not?”
(Recipe and instructional gallery are located below!)
Serves 6 to 8.
3 turnips (about 12 ounces)
1 small celery root (about 12 ounces)
2 large potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 or 5 leeks (about 1 ½ pounds), white and green parts, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 cups water
2 ½ cups milk
12 to 16 fried croutes, made with 1 baguette and 4 tablespoons butter
5 ounces Tomme de Savoie or Gruyere Cheese, thinly sliced
Peel the turnips, quarter them, and then slice ½ inch thick. Peel the celery root, cut into 8 wedges, and then slice the wedges crosswise ½ inch thick. Peel the potatoes, cut them into small chunks ½ inch thick, and put in a bowl of cold water to cover.
Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the turnips, celery root, and leeks, season with salt and pepper, and press a piece of aluminum foil down on the vegetables. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to very low, and sweat the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, stir them into the vegetables, and add the water. Cover the pot again and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Bring the milk almost to a boil in a small saucepan, add it to the soup, and taste for seasoning. Cover and continue simmering gently until the vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. If the milk s boiled hard, it will curdle. Taste again and adjust the seasoning. The soup may be kept for a day or two in the refrigerator, where the flavor will mellow nicely.
To finish, make the croutes. Reheat the soup if necessary. Put the croutes in warmed soup bowls and top with the cheese slices. Pour over the soup and serve at once so the cheese just melts and the croutes remain crisp.