Our weather, here in Wisconsin, has been up and down, like much of the nation’s. One day it’s 85° and the next it’s 55° so I decided that I wanted to make a soup that would taste great either hot or cold. That way I had all my bases covered. Heat it up and it would be perfect for a cool, rainy day or serve it chilled, with a salad of the baby greens we received in our share, for a light, hot weather lunch. Potato soup is perfect for this kind of application as it often works both as a hot or a chilled soup. The potatoes would also be the perfect foil for the plethora of green garlic, which we had gotten for the past 2 weeks of our share that I wanted to use up. This makes a wonderful, comforting warm soup, yet not too hearty for a summer day. Chill it down it makes a great cold soup, but blend in some cucumber and you have a perfect early summer luncheon when paired with a salad, or in our case, thinly sliced radishes set atop of buttered honey wheat bread.
Potato and Green Garlic Soup-Two ways
6 bulbs green garlic with 4-5″ of the stems left on
2 pounds russet (Idaho) potatoes
1 rib celery
1 cup half and half
freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sour cream
1-2 cucumbers (seedless as the skins of regular cucumbers are too thick and bitter)
Roughly chop the green garlic and celery and place in a medium sized pot. Peel and slice the potatoes. Add to the pot, along with the half and half. Add enough water to just barely cover the potatoes. Add salt, pepper and a few gratings (or a small pinch) of ground nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes start to fall apart, about 20 minutes depending on how thickly or thinly you slice the potatoes. Puree the soup, adding additional water, if necessary to achieve a consistency you like. Stir in the sour cream, adjust the seasoning and serve. Or, at this point chill the soup until completely cold. Return to the blender and add the cucumber, roughly chopped. Blend until smooth. At this point you will probably also have to thin the soup again as it thickens as it cools. You will also have to re-season the soup as the cold will deaden the seasoning a bit. No matter at what temperature you serve the soup it will be improved by garnishing with a sprinkle of fresh herbs. There are many to choose from, but my choices would be rosemary, if serving the soup hot and tarragon is serving it cold. Be careful as both herbs can be overpowering so just a light sprinkling would be fine.
I served this soup cold on Saturday and accompanied it with thinly sliced radishes served over slices of honey wheat bread slathered with copious amounts of butter. It may not be the most inventive way to serve radishes, but there are reasons some foods become classics and buttered radish sandwiches fall easily into this category. If you’ve never tried it do yourself a favor and try now, with fresh early summer radishes. Just make sure to a good, dense bread, such as the honey wheat loaf I used.