Fritter - A Pantry Blog

A Warm Soup for January

Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Ah, January.

I’m writing this post from the snow-covered Methow Valley, where I snuck away with friends for some snowy antics and birthday celebrations. It’s shocking to be reminded of how gorgeous Washington is, and even more shocking to realize that I went cross-country skiing my first winter in Seattle, six years ago, and am only just now returning. I guess I got busy? Back at the Pantry things are humming along at a new rhythm. Our second kitchen is finally completed, and we’re all rolling around in the luxury of more space. We’ve finally got HVAC, a fully functioning dishwashing station, and, most importantly, shelves in all the places that needed them, so things have a place to reside. That might not seem like much, but for obsessive organizers like us, it is soooo exciting.

January is a lovely month at the Pantry. Everyone returns from their holiday break bright-eyed and full of ideas for 2016. Somehow the craziness of December has been forgotten, and there’s this brief moment, before everything speeds up again, when I’m reminded of how proud I am of this little community we’ve built. We’ve grown so much in the past four and a half years, but I still manage to recognize a handful of familiar faces at every event. And there’s no event that brings in the regular crowd quite like our annual New England Crab Supper. It’s a meal with all the markers of being one of my favorites: it’s casual (translation: MESSY!), with piles of crab and potatoes being dipped in melted butter; it has an element of theatre, when we roll up the newspaper to reveal our wooden table underneath; and it’s friendly — every year, without fail, this dinner inspires people to get chatty with their neighbors, leaving us all beaming with pride. It’s always one of our more straightforward menus, letting the crab course do the heavy lifting:

Johnny cakes with maple-braised kale
Old Bay crackers with smoked trout salad and green apple
Brown butter-baked clams with linguisa and herbed breadcrumbs

Celery root soup
Black pepper popover, bacon, and tarragon oil

Cracked Dungeness crab
Roasted ozette potatoes with sea salt and cider vinegar
Drawn butter, salsa verde, and spicy aioli for dipping

Seared Savoy cabbage
Apple-cranberry relish, jalapeno, mustard, and cheddar crisps

Maple walnut trifle
Toasted walnut cake with maple mousse and candied walnuts

Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Since January kicks off the winter season (at least in my mind), soup is always a huge part of the crab supper. We’ve had some spectacular ones in the past: tomato-horseradish soup with cheddar biscuits and celery leaves, spicy pumpkin soup with caramelized brussels sprouts and apples, and watercress soup with a lemony crouton, almond and herb jumble. This year our new chef Darin was in charge of the soup, and I dare say he knocked it right out of the park. Celery root soup might seem like a tough sell (I hear there are people out there who don’t love celery root?), but once I saw the words written down as an idea, I was in. I love the fresh, slightly licorice flavor of celery root — raw in a salad, roasted in a gratin, or sautéed into a breakfast hash. It’s true that I’m an across-the-board root vegetable lover, but that celery root is special.

Since we knew some folks would need some coaxing to get excited about celery root soup, we sexed it up with some fun components: crispy bacon lardons, a bright green tarragon oil, and some mini black pepper popovers. And while you certainly don’t need all the bells and whistles to enjoy this soup, I overheard more than one person exclaim that “all soup should have a popover floating in it” — and I couldn’t agree more.

Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Celery Root Soup with Black Pepper Popovers, Bacon, and Tarragon Oil

8 servings
  • Celery Root Soup:
  • 1 tablespoon high heat oil
  • 1 each medium leek, white and light green parts only
  • 1 large green apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 each garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 each bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Salt & white pepper, to taste
  • Bacon Lardons:
  • 3 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Tarragon Oil:
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1/4 ounce tarragon
  • 1/8 ounce chives
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons high heat oil
  • Black Pepper Mini Popovers:
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
  • reserved bacon grease from lardons

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