Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Soup du Jour

So today is the was the first day that actually felt like spring here in New Hampshire.  What did I decided to cook?  Soup.  Not really sure where the drive for that came from, but I was produce shopping today and I just sort of let the ingredients drive my cooking plan.

First, I made a Minted English Pea & Cucumber Soup.  I kept this one nice and simple and let the incredible freshness of the peas shine through.  I am more than ready for my garden to start blooming so that I can try this with my own produce.  Soup or not, I really feel that this just spoke to the bright, freshness of spring and really worked today.

Second, I prepared a Curry Roasted Cauliflower & Spring Onion Bisque.  I love using cauliflower in soup because it brings this delicious, flavorful creaminess that allows me to use less daily products to achieve the texture that I want.  The spring onion added another dimension of flavor behind the curry but kept it milder and sweeter than a traditional red or yellow onion.  All in all, not my favorite creation of the day, but a solid effort and nonetheless enjoyable.

Finally, I challenged seasonality and created what I consider to be my crowning jewel of the night.  I know chestnuts are traditionally a winter item, but they just looked fantastic and I decided to bid adieu to winter with a Roasted Chestnut and Shaved Black American Truffle Bisque. 

This past December, James and I traveled to Napa Valley where I had the opportunity to taste some of the most amazing food I've ever eaten... among which was the Roasted Chestnut Bisque at Redd.  I've thought about this dish numerous times since then and when I saw the chestnuts today, I really just wanted to see what I could do as far as recreating it, but putting my own spin on it at the same time.  I feel that the texture was a perfect match but we took different directions in flavor.

Being the end of the season, I felt that the chestnuts weren't as bursting with flavor as I would have liked them to be in order to let them stand alone... enter the black American truffles.  I soaked the chestnuts in a black truffle oil and a champagne fleur de sel before pureeing them with a locally made Vermont cultured butter and fresh milk (yes, I said milk, not cream).  I think that chestnuts have a creamy texture to begin with and they were able to impart what I was looking for in my soup without needing to laden it with heavy cream... just a personal opinion.  I added some shaved black American truffles and pea shoots to top it all off and add a little bit of texture.

See, soup can work in all seasons!

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