Cold Mountain Air? There’s a Bisque for that.

Throughout this pandemic I noticed that my zeal and zest to cook and recipe build had been waning…dissipating faster than the polar ice caps is probably most accurate. 2020 was also a milestone birthday for me and one of my best friends. Pre-pandemic we were going to go out to California and drive the whole PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). We altered our plans to head to west Texas and visit Big Bend National Park. Which, except for the veritable food dessert that is out here, has been a lovely trip.

The thing about the mountains in the winter is – it is cold. And dry. I need you to imagine being in your car, driving the Ross Maxwell Scenic Route of a 1,252 mi² park trying to keep your lips from chapping because the air is so dry and you need water but you are still a city girl and going pee pee in a hole in the ground is not part of any birthday celebration I wanted. Anyway, the air is cold and dry so what better than a bisque to warm you through? I have it on good authority that bisques are wet. And wet is the opposite of dry. The gremolata really brightens up this rich soup on the very last end note and takes it to another level. I would not skip it.

We have an instant pot for this trip and we have made a pretty great turkey meatloaf one night and it was going to make this bisque. As a gentle reminder, I don’t measure when I cook, I guesstimate as I go; something that comes in handy when you are in a new environment, using other people’s kitchen and equipment. Anyway, this soup made 4 servings.

Ingredients – for the soup
  • Olive Oil (for sauteeing)
  • Mirepoix (diced carrots, onion, celery)
  • Dried Thyme
  • Bay Leaves
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of white wine (used left over chardonnay had in the fridge)
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 32 oz stock (used low-sodium Chicken)
  • 1 large turnip
  • 3 leeks (greens discarded, whites sliced no larger than 1-inch rounds)
  • 6 small to medium red potatoes, washed chopped into 1/8ths
  • Fresh Cracked black pepper
  • Flaky Sea Salt (used Maldon)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (more depending on taste)
Ingredients – for the Gremolata
  • 6-8 sprigs Italian/ flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • zest / rind of 1/2 a lemon, finely diced
  • 3 TBSP coarsely crushed cashews (unsalted and roasted)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or any oil of your choice)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Maldon (or other flaky salt)
  • 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper

The Method for this soup is simple:

1 – finely chop the parsley, lemon zest, add in black pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside to let flavors combine. Should NOT be wet like a chimichurri.

2 – sautee the mirepoix in olive oil for a couple of minutes, onions should take about 3 minutes on medium heat to get translucent, depending on how big your dices are. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves.

3 – Once wilted and browned, add in carrots, turnips, and leeks. Add black pepper and salt. When you add salt to things, it causes the water in the food to cook out, concentrating the flavor. So once you think that has happened, add the wine and once it has cooked down, add the butter.

4 – add these softened vegetables to the instant pot, plus 32 oz of stock + 1/3 c water. Throw in raw potatoes. Set on high to pressure cook for 8 minutes. Once cooled, separate out the potatoes (remove bay leaves), and blend the rest via blender or immersion blender. Add the potatoes back in. Add Cream and cheese.

5 – Cut and heat sausage through (used pre-made chicken and apple sausage)*. Garnish with warmed sausage and gremolata.

*If using raw sausage, remove from casing, sautee in pan before vegetables, using the pan fond to flavor the vegetables + 1/2 a diced granny smith apply to add sweetness.

Cashew Gremolata

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