Autumn Goodies From Winter Green Farm
Is it just me or is this not the BEST time to visit farmer’s markets and cook? I trotted over to the new f.m. in my neighborhood (King Farmer’s Market) this Sunday and between the gorgeous Rouge Vif D’Etamps squash (which always remind me of Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage) to the last of the year’s eggplant, I got all geeked-out and high from all the vegetable goodness.
I was so veggie-high in fact, that I bought a lot of really beautiful stuff, especially the organic celery root and other autumny goodness from Winter Green Farm. Almost more than I could carry. I didn’t realize that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with all of it until I tried to cram it all in the fridge. There was no way in hell it was all going to fit in there, so I needed to figure out something quick.
Which reminded me of my old pal Trina. Trina is a great chef with a wickedly wry sense of humor and kitchen smarts like I’ve never seen. One day while we were slaving away at a now defunct-catering company, I looked at the clock and realized in panic that it was almost the lunch hour and we hadn’t made the daily soup for our lunch rush. I asked Trina what in the world we were going to do. She stopped slicing meat, arched her left eyebrow and said, “I dunno, cream of walk-in.”
“Walk-in” is kitchen speak for a walk-in refrigerator. Trina calmly went into the walk-in, grabbed a bunch of vegetables, sweated them in butter, added housemade chicken stock and simmered it for 40 minutes. She pureed the soup with an immersion blender and added cream. The results? A rich, silky smooth soup with great vegetable flavor in under an hour. It was a big hit with our daily lunch crowd and with me. I’ve never forgotten it.
Yesterday, I applied the same “cream of walk-in” strategy to my farmer’s market booty, plus some bits and bobs I found in the vegetable keeper. Instead of chicken stock, I used water and a few tablespoons of Harvest brand Vegetarian Bouillon Mix-Chicken Flavor (available at Asian markets and by clicking the link) so Mr. Tofu could enjoy the soup too. For a snazzy topping, I drizzled bowls of soup with a blend of light olive oil and smoked Spanish paprika. Whizzed in the blender, the two ingredients combine to make a brilliant orange condiment that looks lovely drizzled on soups and lends a subtle smoky flavor to everything it touches.
As for the vegetable in the soup, I’ve listed what I used, but feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand with the caveat that really strong flavored stuff like broccoli may hijack the flavor if used in too large of a quantity. Stick to the 6 pounds of mixed vegetables:8 cups water or stock:1 cup cream and you’ll have yourself a big pot of vegetable comfort in no time. Call it “cream of vegetable keeper,” if you like.
Creamy Autumn Vegetable Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil
Serves: an Army
1 1/2 pounds celery root (green stalks attached and set aside), peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons of butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium carrots (6 ounces)
2 parsnips (about 8 ounces), peeled and chopped
2 ounces fennel bulb (feathery leaves discarded), chopped
Three 3-inch long sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 ears of corn, kernels shaved off cob (15 ounces corn kernels)
8 cups cold water
2 tablespoons Harvest Vegetarian Bouillon Mix-Chicken Flavor1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons mild olive oil
2 tablespoons Spanish smoked Paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Chop about 5 of the celery root stalks finely. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the celery root stalks (not the root yet), onion, carrots, parsnips, fennel and thyme sprigs. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender but have not colored, about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes, celery root, corn, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently until the vegetables smoosh easily when pressed against the side of the pot, about 45 minutes. Taste and add the bouillon mix if needed. Blend with an immersion blender, or allow soup to cool for 10 minutes and blend in blender in batches. Run blended soup through a food mill with the finest disc, or pass it through a fine-mesh sieve back into the pot.
Add the cream to the soup and heat over low heat until hot throughout, about 5 minutes. While the soup is reheating, make the smoked paprika oil. Combine the oil and paprika in a blender and run until thoroughly blended, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a squeeze bottle with fine tip.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls, grind black pepper over each bowl and drizzle with paprika oil.