My winter farm market had the largest shallots I’d ever seen in my life, as big as an onion; I knew I had to make something special.
The staples at our Winter CSA are reliable, and I am extremely grateful that all season long and well into spring, I can purchase organic, colorful potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, onions of different varieties, shallots, freshly grown greens, eggs, cheese, and a selection of frozen goods grown at the family farm just down the road from me, Harlow Farm.
That being said, it takes a lot to surprise me this time of year when I stop at the stand, but this week I reached for shallots for a recipe and thought they had gotten mixed up with the onions! They were so large, they compared to the red onions in the basket above them. Usually, shallots are tiny, and tedious to mince. Not these monsters!
Immediately, my mind began to wander, as I looked around and thought about what else I could make with these marvels! I love making dishes entirely from our local market (except for spices and oils of course). Soup came to mind! It was a cold day, and I had planned to make some soup for lunches anyway, so it was a natural.
Pick and choose
There was celeriac, of course, a root with a great celery flavor, and some rainbow carrots. I chose the pale yellow carrots for this dish. Garlic, of course, and a potato to give some body to the soup.
Arugula. Spicy, green, refreshing arugula. I’ve used it in soups before, and it just begged to be tossed into the soup at the last. A nod to the coming green of spring.
An unusual soup base
If you don’t have the benefit of monster shallots, use what ever size you can find. The two I used in this recipe together weighed a whopping 12 1/2 ounces or 350 grams, and measured about three cups!
The soup comes together and cooks quickly, and while it simmered, I made a crunchy shallot topping to garnish. After tasting, I think it is essential to the soup! Everyone has liked it, including my seven-year-old granddaughter who was visiting over February break and asked me to make a batch for her to bring home!
This one’s for you Susan Harlow!
Winter Market Shallot and Arugula Soup
Makes about six cups
- 2 tbsp. fruity olive oil
- 2 monster shallot bulbs, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 small celeriac bulb, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. thyme
- ½ tsp. tarragon
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 potato, diced
- 2 bay leaves, fresh if possible
- 1 quart water
- 6 ounces baby arugula
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup shallots, sliced thinly
- olive oil to cover
In a saucepan over high, heat the olive oil and add the shallots, carrot, and celeriac. Turn down the heat to medium-high and continue sautéing until the vegetables have softened.
Add the garlic, pepper, salt, thyme, tarragon, cinnamon and continue cooking another couple of minutes, until the spices and garlic have bloomed.
Add the potato, bay leaves, and water.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about a half hour. The potato will be nice and soft. While cooking, make the crispy shallots, below.
Using an immersion blender, regular blender, food processor, or masher, blend the soup, leaving just a bit of texture.
Add the arugula and cider vinegar. You don’t need to return to the heat, it will wilt on its own. Blend just a little so that the arugula is not stringy when you eat it, but still mostly in tact.
Garnish with crispy shallots.
To make the shallots, cut up a half to full cup of shallots and place in cold oil to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes, or until nice and brown.
Remove to a towel and immediately sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Save the oil! It will be delightfully infused with the shallot flavor!
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