Every once in a while, I take some time to browse the menus of some Michellin-starred restaurants in the area – without any delusions of grandeur or urges to pay more for a dinner than a week’s vacation in a nice hotel on a remote island involved. The reason for this peek into these world-class kitchens is relatively simple: in recent years, a lot of those restaurants have made a habit of ditching the usual, descriptive menu in favor of a list of 2-3 main ingredients per course. An absolutely fabulous habit in my book, scrambling my neurons in exactly the right way!
What could they possibly turn this combo of ingredients into? What’s this funky <insert strange name of an ingredient here>? What possessed them to use completely unusual, even flat-out weird plants like Eucalyptus in a savory dish – something along the lines of “Eucalyptus – Kiwi – Tuna”, if I remember correctly – and where do they even get that kind of stuff from on this side of the globe? And then some… You can probably imagine how this kind of thought process can send someone like me into an experiment-frenzy, especially when there’s no hint about what kind of dish – Soup? Salad? Molecular shenanigans? – they’ve turned those ingredients into other than their spot in an order of courses~
The “Kohlrabi – Blueberries – Goat’s Cheese” combination crossed my path for the first time around 4 or 5 years ago. Three of my all-time-favorites in one dish, how convenient~! Up until that point I had never considered bringing those three stooges together though, so I stocked up and vanished into the kitchen for some time, steering clear of the salad dish that sent me off in that direction. Since, at the time, winter was showing it’s rough face, storms and ice with all the fixings, I decided on a comforting soup with a very-berry twist, using the simple kohlrabi-in-white-sauce lunch dish my grandma used to make for kohlrabi-loving mini-me around this time of the year as a starting point. Here’s the result of my experiments, a healthy, nutritious and easy-to-make comfort dish with the potential to wow a dinner crowd, should the need arise~
The Kohlrabi Soup
300g Kohlrabi, topped, tailed, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes – when you’re prepping the kohlrabi and the fennel, keep in mind you’ll need an additional amount for the Blueberry-Goat’s Cheese islands below. The average-sized kohlrabis and fennels I usually go with, weigh around 200g per kohlrabi and 150g per fennel bulb, so I simply use the excess amounts for the topping.
100g Fennel, greens, outer layer removed or peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
400-500ml Chicken Stock – start with 400ml, keep 100ml nearby to adjust the consistency if absolutely necessary
125g Créme Légère
½ Tsp freshly grated Ginger
½ Tsp dried Parsley
Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
Freshly grated Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Chives, finely chopped
1) Place a large pot on medium heat and bring the stock up to a gentle simmer.
2) Add the veggies, a generous pinch of salt and a good scrape of nutmeg.
3) Chase the spices with a few cracks of your peppermill, the ginger and the parsley.
4) Pop on the lid and let the liquid get back up to temperature.
5) As soon as bubbles start rising again, leave the veggies to simmer away in the stock for 15-20 mins until tender.
6) Perfect time-frame to prep the topping~
7) Turn the heat down to low and stir in the crème légère once the bubbling-action has settled down.
8) Move the lot into a blender jug or, if using a stick blender, into a stick-blender-friendly, heat-proof container. Leave it in there, untouched, for about 5 mins before whizzing it into a smooth, creamy soup. Go through the motions of a consistency-check while the soup’s still in the whizzing gizmo and adjust it with the reserve-stock if necessary.
9) Once you’re satisfied, pour the soup back into the pot, still sitting on low heat, to warm through again. Have an eye on it while you’re getting ready to plate up, the soup shouldn’t get back up to more than a very light simmer – the crème could split if it started to boil.
10) Have a final taste of the soup just before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
The Blueberry-Goat’s Cheese Islands
80g Semi-firm Goat’s Cheese – Goat’s Milk Gouda works exceptionally well – cut around 2/3 of it into ~10 small cubes, and finely slice the rest into thin ribbons
100g fresh Blueberries
2 Tbsp Kohlrabi, finely julienned
2 Tbsp Fennel, finely julienned
1 Tbsp Crème Légère
1 Tsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp mild Mustard
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1) Place the crème légère and the mustard in a small bowl.
2) Stir the lot, adding the vinegar in a slow and steady drizzle, until well combined.
3) Have a taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
4) Add the julienned veggies, half of the blueberries and the cheese ribbons and gently toss them with the contents of your bowl until everything is covered with a light layer of the dressing.
5) Set the bowl aside until you’re ready to plate up.
Assembling the Dish
1) Place a spoonful of the topping in the middle of each of your bowls.
2) Pop the cheese cubes around the island into the bowls. As soon as they come into contact with the hot soup, they’ll start melting and turn a humble, creamy soup into a yumtastic hug in a bowl.
3) Pour in the hot soup, sprinkle it with the remaining blueberries and chives and serve immediately.