After sharing Pork Fat Beignets with Bourbon Caramel and Porcini Dusted Seared Gulf Grouper, here's a comforting third helping from from Pickles, Pigs and Whisky (Andrews McMeel, October 203) by John Currence, all the way from Oxford (Mississippi).
Cream of Roasted Salsify Soup
Serves 8 to 10
Salsify is also known as oyster root, though I’ve never really noticed any more similarity to oysters than portobello mushrooms have to steak. I love it nonetheless, though I don’t feel obliged to compartmentalize it. Salsify has a wonderful texture and a nice mellow flavor that needs little more than green herbs and a touch of aromatic vegetables. It is a root vegetable that doesn’t possess the bitterness or mineral flavor associated with some of the other roots. Salsify is a good source of fiber and vitamins C and B2. It’s a little hard to find, but if you come across it, grab it immediately. You’ll love it.
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (see Notes)
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 pounds salsify, peeled (see Notes)
¼ cup pure olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¼ cups small-dice yellow onions
1 cup small-dice celery
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
8 cups Dark Chicken Stock (page 31)
¾ cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter, combine the herbes de Provence, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and chives and secure with a piece of butcher’s string. Set aside.
Toss the salsify with the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the white pepper. Spread in a single layer on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes (or until pierced easily with a knife). Remove and set aside.
In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions, celery, and garlic until soft. Add the potatoes, sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon white pepper, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Toss in the salsify and stir until well combined. Add the sachet of herbs and spices and the stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the sachet and discard. Blend the soup with an immersion blender (or let cool and puree in batches in a countertop blender) until smooth. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Garnish with quickly sautéed shrimp and a drizzle of chive oil (see Notes).
Treat salsify like potato. It oxidizes when it is peeled, so keep it in plain water once it is peeled.
Herbes de Provence is, today, a blend of dried herbs indigenous to that area of France. It typically is comprised of the most abundant herbs there: lavender, savory, fennel, and thyme. These blends are available at specialty food stores and larger grocery stores, and frequently come in spiffy little ceramic pots that will make your kitchen look super sophisticated.
For chive oil, substitute dried chives for bay leaves in the flavored oil recipe on page 172.
(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey' by John Currence -October 2013- published by Andrews McMeel- all rights reserved, Photography by Angie Mosier)