Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter: White swede (rutabaga) and celeriac soup with or without fish

White swede (rutabaga) and celeriac soup

Almost all food magazines I leafed through today at the kiosk dedicate a section on soups as the perfect winter food. Rightly so, however I doubt if anyone would really sit outside, read a book and enjoy a bowl of soup in winter in the northern hemisphere anywhere above the 47° N latitude like a beautiful photo was suggesting in one of these magazines.

I was waiting to board a flight around 4pm in early January in Helsinki and was looking out of the airport window. This was the time just before the evening darkness fell. My view through the frame was the dark blue sky, bordering black, a tick darker wall of forest on the horizon at the edge of the tarmac, a lonely yellow lamp not reaching past the gate, no other building in sight. The pressing "kaamos" (polar night, also referred to as winter tiredness) was only interrupted by an occasional plane rolling in to its gate somewhere. It was dark.

In the north where the darkness rules many months paradoxically the start of winter on the 21st December is actually the first step to the light again. That step is noticable already in the first days of January when the day is just a few minutes longer and life takes on a more optimistic note even if just psychologically. Most of the cold is still ahead....

Time for a bowl of soup with two winter vegetables: white fleshed swede and celeriac.
Swede is known as rutabaga in North America. If you are sensitive to the slightly bitter taste of swede then in the combination with the sweet note of celeriac that bitterness is not felt at all.

White swede (rutabaga) and celeriac soup
Ingredients (2 portions)
1 celeriac
1 white swede
bay leaf
5-6 grains of allspice
2 leaves of leek
800 ml vegetable stock
2 tablespoons sour cream or crème fraîche
a small bunch of cress
salt and black or cayenne pepper

400g bream, cod or salmon, cut into 2cm cubes
2 tablespoons (rape seed) oil

White fleshed swede (rutabaga), celeriac, leek, bay leaf, allspice

Cut the celeriac and swede into small cubes and place in a pan together with a bay leaf, grains of allspice, leek and add the stock. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Remove from heat and take out the bay leaf, allspice and leek. Using a blender or hand mixer purée into a soup. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the cream.

Briefly fry the fish

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the fish for 3-4 minutes turning sides.

Serve the soup with chopped cress and portion the fish directly at serving.
Also tastes great without the fish as a vegetarian option.

Cream of swede and celeriac with fish