Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Roasted salsify soup with black bean-garlic oil

I had some salsify on hand from the winter farm share, and was trying to think of something interesting to do with them. Since its taste is vaguely reminiscent of oysters, I started thinking along the lines of great seafood dishes, and eventually hit on Chinese clams with black bean sauce.

This soup had a great mouthfeel — the creamy richness of pureed root-vegetable soup, broken up by the varied textures in the garnish: crispy salsify-ends, spongy black beans, and, well, mushroom-y shiitake mushrooms, all bathed in a rich garlicy olive oil.

I started basically with Oven Roasted Salsify Soup. If you've got salsify that are quite large at one end but taper at the other end, then roasting them whole presents a bit of a problem — after 30 minutes the tapered ends were charring but the large ends haven't cooked through. Not a big deal; just chop them up and finish cooking in the soup water (takes longer, of course). I found that the roasted salsify, combined with the garnish, was flavorful enough to be able to use water rather than stock in making the soup.

The amounts are pretty inexact. I used two hulking salsify (the biggest ones I've ever seen in fact), each the size of a large juice carrot, supplemented by one medium-sized potato, and it made two servings each of which was a light lunch.

A good amount of salsify roots, or mixture of salsify and potatoes
a few dried shiitake mushrooms (1 for every two servings)
about 1 clove of garlic per serving, minced
about 1 TBSP of fermented black beans per serving, chopped but not too finely
plenty of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel salsify (and potatoes, if using), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in small baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cover the shiitake mushroom with hot water and let soak.

3. Mince the garlic and chop the black beans a bit, but not too much. Combine with plenty of extra-virgin olive oil (remember, you're making a flavored oil, not sautéing something) in a small saucepan. About 10 minutes before the salsify come out of the oven, place saucepan on lowest possible heat.

4. Remove salsify from the oven and chop. Tapered small ends will be crispy; chop these fairly small and reserve for garnish. Chop remainder of salsify into 1" pieces and put in pan with water to cover; bring to a boil.

5. Drain and mince shiitakes, reserving the soaking liquid. Add the minced shiitakes to the black bean-garlic oil; strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter and add to soup.

6. If the salsify were cooked through in the oven, you can puree the soup as soon as it comes to a boil. Otherwise cover and simmer until salsify pieces are completely tender.

7. Puree the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender, which is way easier). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into serving bowls.

8. Add reserved salsify bits to black bean-garlic oil, stir to combine, then scoop out some solids from the oil to make a mound in the center of each bowl. Drizzle remaining oil over soup.

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