Tuesday, January 3, 2012

white soups for a not-so-white christmas

the iraqi market in the jerusalem souk
The markets in Jerusalem this time of year have the full spectrum of colours for a rainbow diet, a diet that contains all the micronutrients via the different colours of our natural foods.  And with the glorious colours, writes Dr. Gabriel Cousens, we eat with our eyes and begin to imagine the taste before we put it in our mouths. Apparently, this anticipation is one of the best ways to pre-digest our food.

One of the colours we don't see much of in this region during the Christmas-Hannukah season is white ~ there is no sprinkling of snow over treetops and few references to winter as I know it. It is also a colour of food that is associated with the naughty things ~ white flour, white sugar, pastas and the tasty things that fill our guts with gluten, sugars and unfortunately, bloating and discomfort.  To bring white back into food fashion, I have conveniently fallen in love with the nutty sweet white vegetables and am finding ways of bringing them to our table and stomach with panache!

So I have been making "white soups" because they are best made with seasonal celery root, cawliflower, jerusalem artichoke (or sunchokes). The other discovery is chestnuts which we find all over the markets in the East.  Add them in to your soups and they make a super-creamy, toasty kind of creation.

This is an exceptional base for a series of delicious soup combinations because of the scrumptious and unique taste given by the peppery sweetness of tarragon! 

creamy celery root and chestnut soup, with tarragon
2 leeks, thinly sliced  
2 cloves of garlic, chopped small  
1/2 c vegetable stock (and/or you can also use any leftover wine)  
dash of dried thyme and 4 bay leaves  
2 celery roots, chopped or 1 cawliflower, or the equivalent of jeru-artichoke (looks like ginger or galangal)  
8 c vegetable stock, or water with herbamare salt!  
handful of dried chestnuts  (you can find at asian stores, or the health food store)
1 teaspoon lemon zest or lemon rind  
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg  
1-2 tablespoons of fresh or dried tarragon  
2 tablespoons light miso (or whatever you have handy)  
ground pepper and salt to taste  
rice or soy milk to thin the soup
making the soup

cook the leeks, garlic, salt and sherry/veg broth til the leeks are tender and begin to caramelize. add in the thyme, bay, celery root, stock and chestnuts.

cover and simmer for 40 min then add in the lemon zest, nutmeg, tarragon, pepper, miso and salt. remove from heat and discard the bay leaves so you can blend the soup. 

add rice milk to thin the soup if you want, and garnish with lemon zest and tarragon or thyme!

thank you to amazing vegan gourmet the millennium restaurant for the inspiration for this recipe, which invited the mighty tarragon into my life!

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