Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Saturday, October 1 - Pear, Parsnip, Celeriac and Ginger Soup - Big Ol Pot of Seasonal Comfort

When the air gets that little edge where I turmoil everytime I'm at the door about taking a heavier coat and Vancouverites start carrying an umbrella by default (or at least those without Vancouver amnesia*), it's time to look to the root.  I love the heartiness and hominess of root and squash based soups.  I only tried Celeriac for the first time a few years ago.  It was in a mash I made. The idea of a vegetable with the nutty, spiciness of Celery with the creamy texture of a potato was facinating.  Apart, from the unappealing appearance and the even less comely trimming necessary, it is made for my tastes.  What do I mean by uncomely?  The root end lookes like a nest of worms.  There is dirt and fibrous bits that bug me from two aspects: the chore / grossness of cleaning in every nook and cranny and the % yield from the Celeriac you buy versus the amount Celeriac "meat" you have after trimming and peeling.  Waah.  But when you want a nice hearty soup, there's nothing like it.  The Parsnip is similar but is sweeter than the Celeriac and not as smooth a texture.  D used the other Parsnip we bought in a Parsnip and Chestnut Risotto I'll post tomorrow.  The combination in this soup is nutty, slightly sweet, a touch spicy from the Ginger and wonderfully satisfying. 

Pear, Parsnip, Celeriac and Ginger Soup
Serves 10-12 ie. leftovers eat or to freeze

2 T Butter
2-3 T Olive Oil
1 large Celeriac, (5 pin bowling ball sized, before peeling), 3-4 c diced
1 large Parsnip, (1.5 inches throug the middle), 2-3 c diced
4 med-large Bartlett Pears, cored and diced
2 cloves Garlic
2 inches fresh Ginger, sliced across the grain to slice the stringiness
1 med Onion, chopped, (tennis ball)
4 sprigs fresh Rosemary (woman's finger length)
4 sprigs fresh Thyme
3 Bay Leaves
1/2 c dry White Wine
3 c Veggie Broth
1 c Water
1/2 Lemon(for prep not for soup)
1.5 t Salt
Fleur de Sel, garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garnish

Fill a large bowl full of cold water.  Squeeze the half Lemon into it and leave it floating in the bowl.

Trim and peel the Celeriac.  The most efficient and not my way of doing it is to cut off the end that looks like a 'army buzz cut' and then cut off the root end ruthlessly.  That will be about 1/4 way down the top and bottom.  Now if you want to be more frugal.  Cut the root end more meticulously around the root bits to save the meat.  This will take some time and you may not want to bother.  Peel the sides with a peeler or sharp knife.  Place the peeled Celeriac into the acidulated water.

Peel the Parsnip with a peeler and place into the water.  The same with the Potato and Pears.  Although not entirely necessary, it will help with the aesthetics of browning.

Peel the Ginger and cut across the grain so you're cutting the 'threads' so you don't have any stringy bits after you puree.  Rough chop the Onion and the Garlic.  Leave the herbs whole.

Dice the Celeriac, Potato and the Parnip into cm (half inch) cubes.  Use all of the Parsnip.  Don't worry about the woody centre.  It doesn't matter in this use.  I do the Pears later.

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, at least 5 qts, melt the Butter and add the Oil on medium heat.  Sautee the Onions and Ginger for 5 minutes to soften, not brown.  Add the Celeriac, Parsnip and Herbs.  Sautee for 8-10 minutes.  Add the Potato and the Garlic.  Sautee for another 5 minutes.  Keep it moving. 

Cut the Pears away from the core and rough cut into large chunks.  Add to the pot as you're done.  Stir for a few minutes.  Add the Wine, Water and Broth.  Add the Salt and adjust to taste.  If you are not using a low sodium broth then you will not need to add as much Salt as I've indicated.

Bring to a Boil.  Then reduce to a steady low simmer.  Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes (purely precautionary).  Fish out the Herbs.  I like to keep track of the stems and leaves I've put in so I'm sure I've fished them all out.  Blend until smooth with a hand blender.  You can leave it on the chunkier side for hominess.  There is obviously no photo because well, it looks like babyfood really.

Reheat and serve hot with a drizzle of GOOD Olive Oil and a touch of Fleur de Sel.  Fresh Parsley is a good option too.

*Vancouver Amnesia:  The odd and omnipresent condition for Vancouver residents (long term to lifers) to FORGET the bad weather that descends on the region from October to April.  This is contrary and distinct from becoming accustomed.  Vancouverites actually do not remember the bad weather that plagues us for most of the year.  Ask any of them and they only remember the few weeks of sun in the Summer or the 1 week heatwave of 25C and not the 30-60 consecutive days of constant rain and lack of sun (serious).  I have Vancouver born and bred friends who admit to being afflicted.


0 Leave a / Read COMMENTs: