Anything this orange, made with root vegetables, should be served on a crisp fall day – rich and hearty with a crusty bread and some good farm-fresh butter (which I evangelize about here). But this carrot-beet soup is light and fresh, tastes as good cold as it does served hot and is perfect for summer.
Arriving home from a trip to the Market with baby carrots and golden beets, I began searching cookbooks for salads and sautés. Stumbling across a recipe for Potage Crécy first made me think of soup. Crécy, it turns out, is not French for orange root vegetables, but refers to a town known, once-upon-a-time, for growing exceptional carrots. However, there is debate about which of two French towns, one in the south and one in the north, each with Crécy in its name, first served up this light summer soup.
Reading through several recipes, I discovered a basic formula of carrots cooked with onions and stock, puréed and flavored with orange. We added the golden beets, sweet but far less earthy than red ones. I grabbed a bottle of Sapore’s Orange Oil off the shelf and we served up three bowls, each seasoned differently. It was a quick bite after adding turmeric but before adding cumin that was our favorite – although curry was a close second. Served warm, it is light and sweet. Once chilled it is herbal and far more carrot-y. Both are delicious.
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 candy sweet onion, or white onion, diced
- 4 cups thinly sliced carrots
- 3 cups diced golden beets
- 1 tbs minced garlic
- 6-8 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tbs Orange Oil*
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/3 cup cream
- Sherry vinegar
*If you don’t have Orange Oil, substitute 3 tbs olive oil, and one tablespoon grated orange zest
- Melt butter over medium heat in a 4 quart soup pot. Sauté onions until
- soft and translucent.
- Add carrots and beets. Sauté 7-10 minutes until golden on edges. Add ginger after 5 minutes.
- Add stock and simmer approximately 30 minutes until vegetables can be mashed with a fork.
- Pass soup through the finest blade of a food mill or purée with a blender. Return to pot.
- Stir in Orange Oil and simmer an additional 5 minutes to bring flavors together.
- Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and stir through cream.
- Add turmeric a little at a time so as to not overpower the carrot flavor.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and sherry vinegar.
- Serve hot or cold.
Absolutes are rare in cooking. Once you learn the basics of technique and flavor you can experiment freely – recognizing you’re going to bomb every once in a while and that every truly great dish has been practiced and refined over time. While researching broccoli rabe last week, I discovered an exception to this rule. Every single recipe I read began with blanching and included garlic and red pepper flakes.
Now, I’m sure there’s an exception out there somewhere, but once I spent some time getting to know broccoli rabe, it all made sense. Though it looks like broccoli, broccoli rate is closer in relation to the turnip, another member of the brassica family, which includes cauliflower, cabbage, mustard and kale. It has a sharp bitterness to it which is abated by blanching. The heat of the pepper flakes and richness of lightly browned garlic reveal subtler flavors in the rabe.
While there is no sauce in this pasta, I used a common Italian technique of adding the pasta cooking liquid to the sauté pan, along with slightly undercooked pasta, and letting the dish come together while the liquid is absorbed or evaporates. This leaves the pasta almost as flavorful as the greens.
Broccoli Rabe with Pasta
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems cleaned and peeled, and damaged leaves removed*
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbs red pepper flakes
- 2 tbs chopped oregano
- More olive oil – the good stuff!
- 1 pound dried penne or farfalle
- Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
*Chop off the bottom 1/2″ of the stems, then peel them. If your rabe is very leafy, remove the leaves, blanch them separately, and add them about 2 minutes after adding the stems so that they do not become over-cooked.
- Blanch broccoli rabe for 1 minute in salted, boiling water and remove to ice bath. When cool, drain.
- Chop broccoli rabe into 1” pieces.
- Boil water and start cooking pasta.
- Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook until starting to light brown. Be careful not to burn.
- Add pepper flakes, cook for 30 sec.
- Add broccoli rabe and cook 2-3 minutes until crisp tender.
- When pasta is almost ready, drain, reserving two cups of liquid.
- Add pasta and liquid to broccoli rabe. Cook until liquid reduces to coat pasta.
- Toss with oregano, additional olive oil, cheese, pepper and salt.
With each new summer cookout, looms the threat that someone is going to show up with those clear plastic containers from the deli counter of potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw. Now, rumor has it that these salads actually contain potatoes, macaroni and cabbage, but the protective coating of mayonnaise obscures any possible proof.
Okay, that was a bit of hyperbole, but most summer cookouts abound with rich, grilled meats and sauces, toasted buns and baskets of chips and dip. What I want from my salad is something light and bright to balance the plate, and a gloopy heap of mayonnaise just doesn’t cut it. Enter the “French” potato salad.
Like may other American “French” delicacies like fries, toast and dressing, I’m not sure how french this is, but I think they would approve. Boiled potatoes are tossed, still warm, in a sharp, buttery vinaigrette, with garlic or shallots and fresh herbs. They soak up the dressing and releasing the flavorful oils from the greens; exactly what you want sitting next to your burger, hanger steak or chicken thighs, complete with flawless grill marks.
This is a recipe I served at Eastern Market recently, but experiment throughout the summer. Toss with halved cherry tomatoes and basil, use fresh tasting tarragon and shallots, baby arugula or minced red peppers. But please, I’ll take my potato salad without mayonnaise. and I like my burgers rare.
French Potato Salad with Mint and Garlic Scapes
- 4 cups small potatoes
- 3 tbs mint
- 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup Champagne Mimosa Vinegar*
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup Koroneiko Olive Oil*
*More magical ingredients from Sapore Oil and Vinegar. Champagne or white wine vinegar can replace the Champagne Mimosa. The Koroneiko Olive Oil is Greek. Mild and grassy. Substitute another high-quality olive oil.
- Boil potatoes in salted water until still firm but can be easily pierced through to the center with the tip of a knife. Drain potatoes.
- Meanwhile, mince garlic and mash it into a paste with coarse sea salt. Whisk with Champagne Mimosa Vinegar. Season with pepper. Set aside.
- Mix mint and garlic scapes in a salad bowl.
- Cut warm potatoes in 1” pieces – halved or quartered – and toss with mint and garlic scapes. The heat will release oils in the mint.
- Whisk oil into vinegar mixture in a steady stream until creamy. Toss with potatoes. Dress lightly so not to overpower the other flavors.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional mint.
When the wind is blustery and damp with snow, there are few things more satisfying than a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. Whether you keep it simple or gussy it up with roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs, the flavor is deep, rich and satisfying.
When the sun is bright and warm, and you’re dining outdoors, cooled by a light breeze, a rich, hearty tomato soup seems like a slap in the face to one of summer’s most treasured gifts from the garden. The good Lord already took care of packing sweet sugar and tart acidity into those tomatoes. Why do you have to go and play with it?
I wanted a soup – quick cooked to protect the freshness of the tomatoes. Few ingredients so you’re not wasting a perfectly beautiful summer afternoon locked up in the kitchen.
And I found it. A twenty minute soup. A simple bowl of summer.
Fresh Tomato Soup
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 large, very ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 4-6 basil stems*
- 1/4 cup Fresh Tomato oil**
- Sherry vinegar
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, cut in thin strips
*My basil plants needed a break this weekend so I used cilantro. It was a different taste, for sure, but deep and more complex. Equally delicious.
**Another treat from Sapore Olive Oil and Vinegar on Capitol Hill. I have been burning through this stuff this spring, giving April-May tomatoes a July-August flavor. It’s a new pantry staple!
- Sauté onion in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat until soft and translucent.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes and basil stems and cook for 10-15 minutes until softened.
- Pass soup through a food mill. If using a food processor, remove basil stems first. The food processor also removes the tomato stems for a smoother texture.
- Return puree to pot, add a quarter cup of Fresh Tomato oil, and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes minutes to bring the flavors together.
- Season to taste with additional Fresh Tomato oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The vinegar is there to brighten the tomato flavors. If the ones you are using are nice and acidic, you may not need it.
- Garnish with fresh basil and an additional drizzle of tomato oil.