Beet, Squash, and Salsify until Chard
Northern Spy Apple Cider from Eve’s Cidery. I drew on the socks so the picture would be decent.
I have always been very fond of salsify, also called oyster plant. It is available briefly and unpredictably in the fall, so I feel lucky when I find some. I have a Yiddish cookbook from 1926 with a recipe for vegetarian gefilte fish made from salsify, which I hope to tell you about in greater detail soon. I am only mentioning salsify, which has no further relevance to this post, because it sounds like a verb, and thinking about that always delights me. The three main ingredients of the soup I have been making frequently this winter, beet, leek, and squash, all sound like real verbs. A bunch of salsify would feel very at home in this soup if you happen to find some. This week’s soup has shallots instead of leeks, and no potatoes. When I add potatoes, I mash or sieve them separately and then add them back to the pureed soup.
The sweetness of the vegetables is tempered in this recipe by half a bottle of very dry apple cider and pot liquor from cooked mustard greens. If you have neither of these, just use water. You may pass lemon wedges and a bottle of hot sauce when the soup is served.
Velouté of Beets and Squash with Herbs and Cider
5 onions, sliced
1 small basket shallots, about 1 cup shallot slices (or 1 bunch leeks)
5 cloves garlic, sliced
½ one bunch celery, de-strigified and sliced
2 small or one average kabocha squash, yielding 2 pounds squash, cut up
2 pounds red beets, peeled and cut up
2 turnips (or 2 potatoes)
24 ounce can of tomatoes
pot liquor from cooked mustard greens, ½ bottle very dry hard cider, or just water.
2 bunches dill, snipped
1 small bunch parsley, minced
Heat olive oil on the bottom of a large soup kettle. Add the onions and cook over low heat until very soft and just turning golden. Add sliced garlic, shallots and celery and continue cooking several more minutes. When the vegetables are relaxed, add squash, beets, turnips, tomatoes and about three quarts of water, or a combination of water, cider and pot liquor, and salt. Raise heat and simmer, de-scumming occasionally, until vegetables are very soft. Puree the soup in a blender, or use a food mill or other implement, or just beat and squash it into a puree. If you make the soup with potatoes, mash them separately and do not put them through the blender. Return soup to the kettle, add minced herbs, and taste for seasoning.
When you are ready to serve the soup, but not before, you may add milk or a combination of milk and cream, even up to an equal volume with the soup. If you will be keeping the soup, and this one keeps very well refrigerated or frozen, keep it dairy free until serving.
For you, Sweetnicks!
For you, Sweetnicks!