Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sunchokes, chestnuts, vanilla & truffle... all in a day's soup

Day 2 of my mini-holiday recipe marathon here. If you missed my post with 4 holiday hors d'œuvres recipes yesterday, cheese puffs, goat cheese mousse and tahitian poisson cru await right here.

I have been obsessed with soups lately, they're easy, they're delicious, they're nutritious. Such a comfort food. And it's a great way to use seasonal produce. Pablo has really been loving them, having now become proficient at eating them with a spoon on his own (with some minor collateral damages, of course...). Every time I've heard him say "Mmm..." while gulping down a homemade soup, I've felt as if I was witnessing the very process of his brain and body associating soup with comfort and goodness. Sense memories being formed before my eyes. With a soup I made. Enough to warm a mother's soul.

If you're looking for soup inspiration, check out some of my recent favorites here, here, here and here.

Soup is also a great way to experiment with cooking without taking too much risk. For example, I am a fairly novice baker, and am always a bit nervous about experimenting and changing cookie, cake or dough recipes. But soups are much more forgiving and easy that way.

This particular soup was really fun to experiment with. We are big fans of plain sunchoke velouté (sunchokes are also called Jerusalem artichokes in some part of the world, by the way), but adding chestnuts gives it a sweetness that evokes winter, with a touch of exotic from the vanilla and coconut milk, and a hint of luxury from the truffle. It's a lovely holiday first course. Though I have a feeling we will be making this soup regularly after the holidays as well. And I think Santa will prefer this soup to the proverbial cookies this year!

Back tomorrow for our third holiday installment: my mother's signature dish of scallops with avocado sauce, another great first course for a smaller dinner party.


Sunchoke chestnut velouté with vanilla and truffle oil

Prep time: 25 mn
Cook time: 25-30 mn 
Serves 6-8
Age for babies: 8-10 months

2 lbs sunchokes
1 cup chestnut puree*
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 vanilla bean
¼ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp black truffle oil

*You can buy already made chestnut puree, or buy chestnuts in a jar and puree them, or you can make it from scratch. For a great guide on how to roast them, go to this post by Will Cook for Friends.
Peel the sunchokes (yes, their gnarly shape makes this task somewhat tedious...), and cut them up.  Split the vanilla bean.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the shallot over medium-heat (don’t let it brown).  Then, place the sunchokes in the pot, and cover with hot water so that the water level is 2 inches above the sunchokes (about six cups of water). Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean and stir them into the water, place the bean in there too.

Cover, bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer about 25 minutes, until the sunchokes are tender (test with a knife like you would a potato).

Remove the vanilla bean, and mix the soup with an immersion blender or in a blender until very smooth. Add in the chestnut puree, coconut milk and truffle oil, and blend again.  Add salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made ahead up to this point, and refrigerated for up to 2 days).

Reheat gently over low heat before serving. Serve in bowls, with a twist of freshly ground pepper on top, and a drizzle of truffle oil, if you're so inclined.
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  1. this soup sounds amazing... so sophisticated & perfectly seasonal! brilliant.

    1. Thanks so much, Beth! Once I get my hands on those Tennessee truffles, I'll have to try adding them to this soup. Sunchokes and truffles are a match made in heaven.


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