A continuing series on weekly meals that use sustainable, organic, local and ethical food during the challenging winter months. For more information, go here to the DDC section of Not Dabbling in Normal’s website: Dark Days Challenge.
In which I make a garnished root soup that combines hominess with sophistication…
I need to clean out my refrigerator. I have been hoarding (well that’s a little harsh)… storing … lots of roots from our CSA and local farmers’ markets since late fall, and it’s time for them to go. Even though the Dark Days Challenge asks for local, sustainably produced and preferably organic meals once a week, I’m quite pleased that I cook that way all week, with the addition of a few non-local items here and there. Those are mostly grains that simply can’t survive our climate when grown here. And citrus fruit of course, though we’re still working our way through the crate that arrived from Florida as a gift at Christmas. I’ve barely touched the pantry, which remains voluminous. Next challenge.
This meal is an amiable, kitchen-sink soup that can be made with various combinations of root vegetables and various combinations of liquid, including chicken stock, vegetable or bean broth, or simply water. I used a little of each. I tend not to “junk up” the soup by including too many base ingredients. Here I used onion, rutabaga, parsnip, celeriac, and potato…
To pep things up, I made cheese “crackers” by baking grated cheese – a particularly dry and nutty type from Cherry Grove Farm called Havilah – on parchment paper in a hot oven until crisp. I made a slaw of carrots and parsnip combined with frizzled leeks and dressed with local white port from Hopewell Valley Vineyard and Stony Brook Finger Lakes Butternut Squash Seed Oil. The slaw garnished the soup and also floated on cheese crisps. This was lovely, sophisticated and homey all at once.
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp ghee, butter or vegetable oil
1 3- or 4-inch rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 small parsnips or 1 medium parsnip, peeled and sliced
1 2- or 3-inch celeriac root, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
A few cups of liquid: chicken stock, vegetable and/or bean broth, water
Salt and pepper
Place the onion and butter/ghee/oil in a medium saucepan and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and stir to coat. Add liquid (of choice) just to cover the vegetable. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are tender, adding more liquid if needed. Puree slightly and thin to desired consistency. Season to taste.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Finely grate 4 oz of a semi-hard and flavorful cheese. Place in ¼-cup mounds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Let sit for a couple of minutes, and then remove to a plate to cool.