Unfortunately, Friday night I started to feel a little on the sick side. My throat started hurting, which quickly progressed to a lovely sinus headache, which then became a nasty cough. The only thing I wanted to eat this weekend was something warm and savory.
My need for comfort food finally forced me into making something I have been wanting to make since my trip to Portland, Maine in the fall. We went to this FANTASTIC restaurant called Duckfat when we were there. Let's just say after I tasted my appetizer I proudly announced to the table, "if the chef and I made babies, we would have the most famous culinary children in the world," which then led to a hot debate on artificial insemination that ended poorly.
ANYWHO, the food was fantastic to say the least. The most famous item at this restaurant was the fries fried in duck fat. They also had a variety of sauces to dip the fries in. The sauces were stellar! Like I said, the chef and I were totally on the same palate train!
The appetizer that I had that really blew my socks off was a Sage Rutabega Soup. The tastes were perfect, from the salty bacon, to the savory and sweet spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage, to the bitterness of the rutabaga, to the creaminess of the whole thing. Yep, it was perfect. I was so intrigued that I asked the waiter how the dish was made. He went back to the kitchen to give me the full report. We mentioned what ingredients were in the dish, and I just knew I had to come home and try to recreate it!
This is what I did....
Juju's Creamy Sage Rutabega Soup
2 rutabega, ends sliced off and peeled then cubed
4 strips of bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 cups chicken broth/stock
1 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
~3 tbsp packed fresh sage, rolled and sliced
~1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup coconut milk creamer (SO brand is what I use)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Get all our ingredients chopped up and prepared. If you prepare before you begin cooking, you won't overcook your food while you are trying to chop something up.
Get out your dutch oven (or whatever you make soup in will work). Turn your stove onto medium heat. Be patient and wait for the pot to actually heat up before adding your ingredients.
Once your pot is warm, add in the sliced bacon. Ahhh! Nothing better than the smell of bacon!
Let your bacon brown up. Make sure they don't burn! We want the pieces to be nice and crispy, but not burned! You will notice that as the bacon browns, you will get a nice brown film to the bottom of your pot. Leave it there! We will use this "secret" ingredient in a second!
Once your bacon is nice and crispy, remove ONLY the bacon from the pan, leaving as much oil behind as you can. I put my bacon on a plate with a paper towel to let the oil drain off the bacon pieces.
Once you have removed the bacon ONLY from the pan, add your onions to that bacon fat! Then add your garlic. Your pot is going to be hot at this point so you must stir up your onions and garlic to keep them from getting too brown at once or sticking to the bottom of your pot. Don't let your garlic burn or stick to the bottom! It will make it bitter and yucky!
As you stir, enjoy one of the most delightful scents in the world - onions. garlic. bacon fat. YUM!
At this point you can add some salt and pepper. My methodology with salting and peppering is when you add something to the pan, add a little more of both. If you start early, you won't be behind on the salt and pepper train once your dish is cooked. If you are uneasy about your salting and peppering abilities, save it for last, as you can add a little at a time to your own taste, without overdoing either.
Without burning either your onions or garlic, brown these delicious morsels until they are a nice golden brown and soft (see photo above). Turn down your heat a little.
Once you reach this phase, add your white wine.
Some sizzling is going to happen at this point!
Stir, stir, stir. Turn your heat down so that your wine is simmering, not boiling.
See that brown film on the bottom of my pot in the photo above? Remember how I said that this film was important? After you add your wine, you are going to "deglaze" your pot. Use your spoon/spatula to scrape all that crap off the bottom of your pot. This stuff adds a lot of flavor to your food. The more flavor, the better.
Let your wine simmer for a few minutes.
Then add your cubes of rutabega.
Add some more salt and pepper at this point (if you want). Let your rutabega sit in your wine hot tub for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then, add your chicken stock. 4 cups is equivalent to one of those boxes in the store.
Cover your pot and bring your liquid to a boil. This might take awhile.
Once your rutabegas are boiling, add all your spices and stir it up. Cover again and let it boil until the rutabagas are fork tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once the rutabagas are tender, you can now make a decision based on what equipment you own.
1. You can eat as is.
2. You can use a hand blender in your pot to make soup creamy.
3. You can put several portions of the soup into a blender to make it creamy.
4. You can add several portions to your food processor to make it creamy (this is what I did).
Once you pulverize your soup, add in your coconut milk creamer.
If you do not eat Paleo or do not care to eat Paleo, you can sub the coconut milk creamer for heavy whipping cream or half and half. However, the coconut creamer is actually not bad for you.
If you do eat Paleo, you can sub creamer for regular coconut milk in the can. If you want the soup to be thick and creamy, use the top of the cream and not the watery part.
After you make sure the soup is heated through after adding your cream, you are done!
Serve in bowls. Top with your bacon bits and extra sage!
And for your viewing pleasure...
Me crankin' out some garlic! Photo courtesy of my favorite taste tester who loved the soup! :)