Are you mad at me because I should have brought you something more fun on Tax Day? Like an Uncle Sam-themed cocktail? Or maybe a giant green cake named It’s All About the Benjamints?
(Note to self: ideas for next year.)
(Note to you: Steal the Benjamints Cake idea and watch me come after you.)
(P.S. to you: Just kidding. I don’t know where you live. Also: lover, not a fighter, etc.)
Anyway. All I have for you on this April the Fifteenth is soup, but it’s a really, really good one. This is high praise considering that I’m usually ambivalent about pureed soups. I can chew my own food, you know? What am I, a toddler with a W-2? I don’t think so.
Plus, there’s the whole thing about varied textures and colors. I’m into that thing.
However, if you treat pureed soup as a flavorful base for other things–crunchy things, pretty things, fresh things, bacon things (wink)–you are well on your way to a much more fulfilling experience. That’s where the gremolata comes in. Gremolata is really just a fancy Italian word for minced stuff (usually parsley, lemon zest, and garlic) used as a condiment. Also, Siri ever-so-adorably interprets it as “Grandma Lotta.”
You usually see garlic in there, but as blasphemous as this might be, I often skip it. I like to use gremolata with more delicate flavors, and the fresh garlic usually just bulldozes everything. Deliciously, but still.
As for the soup itself, it is super lightweight–in richness, not flavor. (Bonus: it’s vegan.) I’d happily eat it on its own; that said, a dash of hazelnut oil in the gremolata makes it so, so special. I was generously sent some lovely organic/fair trade/non-GMO verified Emile Noel hazelnut oil to try out and honestly, it has such a pure, distinct hazelnut flavor that the actual toasted hazelnuts complement it, not the other way around.
If you were looking for a simplified version of this meal, simply finishing the soup with a little hazelnut oil (or pretty much any other flavorful nut oil) would be impressive enough.
Still: the brightness of parsley and lemon zest, plus the crunch of toasty hazelnuts, elevate this meal to total white-linens status. Gremolata is such an easy route to fancypants eating that I’m not sure why you wouldn’t take it.
Unless perhaps you are still scrambling on that 1040 form? Get steppin’, taxpayer friend–there’s soup to be made. Soup for you, soup for Grandma Lotta, soup for everyone. Cheers!
(Note: I was graciously provided with a sample of Emile Noel Organic & Fair Trade Hazelnut Oil, but the opinions here are my own, etc. etc.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup hazelnut oil (I used Emile Noel)
- Zest of one lemon
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and saute until the onion is translucent and soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, another 30 seconds or s.
- Add the carrots, parsnips, broth, and bay leaves. Bring mixture to boil, then lower heat and simmer until vegetables are soft, 25 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, to make the gremolata, mince the parsley and finely chop the hazelnuts. Combine in a small bowl with the hazelnut oil and lemon zest (this is probably obvious, but use this same lemon for the soup later on). Set aside.
- Remove soup from heat and stir in lemon juice. In batches (and being careful not to scald your lovely self), puree the soup in a blender or food processor (alternatively, use an immersion blender).
- Season soup to taste with salt and pepper and return to pot to reheat, if necessary. Serve immediately with gremolata spooned on top--serves 4-6.