Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Truffle Oil and Crispy Kale

I am a huge fan of cauliflower soup, yet it’s rare that I find a version that’s just right. Often the soup is grainy or bland, redolent of cauliflower yet missing an extra oomph that keeps me coming back for more. So, in my pursuit of the right stuff, I decided to team up cauliflower with a few of my favorite ingredients. First, I added my new best tuber friend – the celery root. Celery root, or celeriac, is mild with a softy nutty flavor. Combined with cauliflower, it smooths and mellows adding a hint of celery while permitting the cauliflower to shine through. I also added a chunk of Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese. As the soup simmers, the cheese dissolves into the stock, lending depth and an elusive umami flavor that begs for more tasting. The soup is puréed and dressed with a splash of cream, adding richness without overwhelming. The final flourish is  a drizzle of truffle oil which elevates this weeknight staple to a holiday standard. For a garnish, I scatter a few crispy kale leaves over the soup. The salty roasted leaves add lovely contrasting crunch to the creamy soup. You might find yourself ferreting through your bowl in search for more.

Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Truffle Oil and Crispy Kale

The crispy kale is an optional addition to this luxurious soup. The kale leaves may be roasted in advance and refrigerated in an air-tight container until use. Be sure to make extra; they are a delicious and healthy snack. Serves 4-6.

For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium celery root, peeled, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 medium cauliflower, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 inch chunk  of Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Truffle oil

For the crispy kale:
6 (or more) kale leaves, halved, tough stems removed
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the soup:
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery root and cauliflower; sauté 3 minutes without browning. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add chicken stock and cheese. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer in batches to a food processor. Purée until smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in cream, salt, pepper and additional chicken stock if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of truffle oil. Garnish with crispy kale leaves.

Prepare the kale:
Toss kale leaves with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 F. oven until crisp without blackening, 25 minutes. Crumble a few leaves in the soup before serving. (Kale leaves may be prepared up to one day in advance.)

Zucchini Ribbons with Pecorino Shavings and Truffle Oil

Zucchini Ribbons with Pecorino Shavings and Truffle Oil

Food 009
Abundance is a good thing, and at this time of year, when the garden has a seemingly endless supply of late summer and autumn squash that it’s throwing to us like a tennis ball machine, it helps to have a repertoire of recipes that puts these gifts to good use.

I discovered this amazingly simple salad in Florence this summer.  In true Italian style, it has a minimum of ingredients. The key, of course, is the quality of the ingredients, as they are truly the stars of the show.  In this case, end-of-summer zucchini is paired with a nutty, mildly piquant Pecorino and dressed with high quality extra-virgin olive oil and white truffle oil.  The olive oil will bind the salad, and the truffle oil will seve as garnish.  This is also efficient economically as truffle oil is pricey, so you need only use it sparingly as the final flourish.  (Keep your truffle oil in the refrigerator, and it should last between 3-6 months before its aroma begins to weaken.)  I bought this bottle directly from the restaurant that served me the salad – my favorite kind of souvenir.

Food 011 Zucchini Ribbons with Pecorino Shavings and Truffle Oil
Serves 4

As soon as the zucchini is salted it will begin to sweat, so prepare salad immediately before serving. Serves 4-6 as a side dish or appetizer

4 medium-sized zucchini, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
Sea salt, about 1 teaspoon or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup shaved pecorino cheese such as Pecorino Sardo or Pecorino Toscana

Trim ends of zucchini.  Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler lengthwise in long ribbons, rotating to peel evenly, stopping when you see the seeds. Discard core. Place zucchini ribbons in a medium-sized bowl.  Add extra-virgin olive oil, truffle oil, sea salt and pepper.  Toss gently to combine.  Arrange on salad plates or in bowls.  Sprinkle with Pecorino shavings. Serve immediately.