In the mood for some comfort food? Seamus Mullen, chef-owner of Tertulia in New York City, makes a strong case for going to the farmers' market in the winter with this easy vegetarian one-pot meal that achieves a nice balance of flavors. Mullen takes advantage of seasonal ingredients at their peak — fresh mushrooms, Tuscan kale, carrots, and butternut squash — to create a truly memorable soup.
Mullen finds that there's a certain "dynamic" that's sometimes lacking in vegetarian dishes, which turns some people off. "But if it's done well, vegetarian dishes can be really terrific," he says.
So the little things make the difference. For instance, with this soup, Mullen uses apple cider vinegar to balance out the sweetness of the carrots and squash. He also uses a mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms as well as mushroom broth to really accentuate different mushroom flavors. (Yes, the dried mushrooms are a must: They're a bit of a splurge, but they're well worth it — they add a smokiness and meatiness that stands in for a chunk of bacon or pancetta that would normally be in a soup like this.) Just as important, he cooks the more delicate vegetables (the kale and the mushrooms) separately to help them retain their shape and texture. Lastly, for a bit of an unusual yet effective flourish, he grates fresh horseradish directly onto the soup just before serving to add a pleasant pungency to the dish.
- 3 T olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 c mixed fresh mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1 medium bunch Tuscan or black kale, thick stems removed, leaves cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 ½ T apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 small butternut squash, stemmed, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 c red pearl onions, peeled
- ½ c pearl barley, rinsed
- ¼ c dry white wine
- 1 c dried mushrooms, such as morels, porcini, or black trumpet
- 2 qts mushroom or vegetable stock
- 1 lemon, for garnish
- Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
- Freshly grated horseradish, to taste
- Handful of fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley or basil, for garnish
1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 ½ T olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Once hot, add the mushrooms. Sauté until slightly softened and light brown in color, for a few minutes. Add more olive oil if the mushrooms start to look dry.
3. Add the kale, followed by the garlic. Stir until the kale is slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. Deglaze the pan with the cider vinegar, scraping any browned bits off the bottom. Pour the kale-mushroom mixture onto a plate, and set aside.
5. Place the pot back on the heat, add 1 ½ T olive oil and the carrots, squash, and pearl onions. Cook until colored slightly, for a few minutes.
6. Add the barley and stir and toast for a few seconds.
7. Add the white wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated, about 1 minute.
8. Add the dried mushrooms to the pot.
9. Cover everything with the mushroom or vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, cover, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the vegetables have softened and the barley is cooked, about 25-30 minutes.
10. Add the kale-mushroom mixture back to the pot, and stir to combine. Taste the soup, and season with additional salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar, to taste.
11. Ladle the soup into a wide, shallow bowl. Garnish with freshly grated lemon zest, Parmesan, fresh horseradish, and fresh herbs, to taste. Serve immediately.
Total time: 50 minutes
From PANNA, Issue 8. Copyright (c) 2013 by How 2 Media, LLC.