After gorging myself on various pork products for the past few weeks, I really felt like I needed a break from all the meat. To get my new found interest in vegetarianism off to the right start, I started the day off with a $7.50 vegetarian lunch buffet at Tiffin Wallah, which happens to have the best southern Indian food I’ve had in Manhattan (buffet or otherwise)
I never cease to be impressed by the way this place infuses vegetables with enough umami and substance to make you swear they’d used a meat based stock. Stomach full, and on the 12 step program to recover from my porkaholism, I sauntered down to the Union Square Farmers Market to look for some inspiration.
Sunchokes, stinging nettles and ramps seemed to be the flavours of the day, and I happened to have two of those ingredients at home already. I bought a pound of sunchokes and headed home, deciding to make a potage with some leftover stock and crème fraîche.
After simmering the sunchokes in the stock for an hour, they were tender and had imparted a mild sweetness to the broth. The stinging nettles and ramps went in at the last minute, and a quick blitz in the blender turned an ordinary looking vegetable stew into a glorious green soup that looked like it might glow in the dark if given a chance.
Luscious and velvety with just a hint of sweetness, this nettle soup is wild and verdant on its own or mellow and refined with a dollop of rich crème fraîche. The flavours are so bright and concentrated this would even be good served as a sauce over some sauteed fava beans, mushrooms and asparagus.
- Add the sunchokes and stock to a stockpot. Cover and simmer over low heat for about an hour, or until the sunchokes are very tender. Add the ramps and nettles and cook for another minute or two until the ramps are a bright green in color and the nettles are warmed through.
- Transfer to a glass blender and blend the nettle soup until smooth and bright green. Salt to taste then pour the green soup into 4 small soup bowls.
- Top with a dollop of creme fraiche per bowl and serve with some crusty bread, toasted and rubbed with a raw clove of garlic.