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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Root Vegetable Soup with Spicy Pancetta Shavings

Inspiration:  Beautiful Fall bounty

I was teaching a class not long ago at Williams Sonoma - Dix30 to demonstrate the amazing Vitamix blender.  Although I do not have a Vitamix yet, I was given one to bring home in order to create and test some recipes.  I have to say, I was truly amazed.  The Vitamix has a great reputation and it is justified.  This is a powerful machine that blends like nothing I have ever seen before and the ease of use is one of the features I liked the most.  Although it is expensive, I feel this is one of those appliances you buy for life - like the Kitchenaid stand mixer - that becomes an integral part of your kitchen space.  An appliance you can count on to be passed on to the next generation when you don't need it anymore. 

The next few recipes posted are some of those created for the class.  I hope you enjoy!

A couple of notes:
  1. This list of ingredients is extensive, but you can use any vegetables you like or have on hand.  The soup will be puréed so everything will be blended - you can get creative with this one.   Also, I always roast root vegetables in the oven to cook them as I feel this gives the best flavour but you can also cook them in the broth with the other ingredients.
  2. Purée the vegetables with a little broth and adjust the consistency to your liking by adding more liquid as you go. 
  3. You can replace the spicy pancetta shavings with bacon, procuitto, chorizo, etc.  Just follow the same steps.

Root Vegetable Soup with Spicy Pancetta Shavings:  8 servings

  • 4 slices of spicy pancetta (or bacon, chorizo, procuitto, etc.)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small leek, diced
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1.5 litres (6 cups) of chicken broth or your own homemade stock
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 small butternut squash, diced
  • 1 small turnip, diced
  • 1 small celeriac, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
  • salt
  • salted herbs (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of seasoned rice vinegar, or white balsamic
  • 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream (optional)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • baby greens as garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).  Place the diced carrot, turnip, sweet potato, celeriac and butternut squash into a bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Stir to coat all the vegetables and spread them evenly onto a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and roast in the centre of your oven for 30 minutes (until all vegetables are very tender when pierced with a knife).

While the vegetables are roasting, place 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook the slices of pancetta until coloured and crisp and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to reserve for the garnish.   Sweat the onion, leek and potato for 5 minutes in the fat rendered by the pancetta (this will add a lot of flavour). Add the fresh thyme and bay leaf with the chicken broth and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

Remove the bay leave and thyme sprigs and combine the roasted vegetables with the potato, leek an onion and purée until very smooth.  Adjust the consitency of the soup by adding additional water or broth.  

Return the soup to a medium heat and add the cream, seasoned rice vinegar and salted herbs.  Stir to combine and adjust seasoning after tasting.    Serve with crisp pancetta, baby greens, some grated hard cheese of your choice and a few drops of cream or brown butter.  Enjoy!

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