About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Truffle & Nettle Soup


It's rather like the princess meets the pauper, no?

The Australian truffle season is in full swing, with top quality Manjimup truffles from Western Australia available from Simon Johnson. Naturally, I had to have some, even if they do create some financial tension in our household, along the lines of... "You paid HOW MUCH for them?!!!"

To soften the blow this year and more importantly to give me a chance to explain (read sneak them in), I asked that Simon Johnson contact me at work when the truffles arrived, but gave them my home phone number as well. I rang them early on the morning they were meant to be here and arranged to pick them up later in the day, so you can imagine my surprise, when, after walking through the front door with the treasures, my wife D casually and with just a slight hint of menace, enquired if they were the truffles she'd been rung about. Damn, busted!

However, truffles are not anything if not magical and D was soon swooning over a plate of irresistible, creamy, truffled, scrambled eggs. She then forgave me well enough too.

Truffles are a bit like the best bottle of wine in your cellar - you could drink it all by yourself, but then you can't really talk about it with anyone because it's impossible to explain how good it was, it demands to be shared with your closest friends. So it is with truffles. They are so rare and special that you must invite your closest friends to enjoy the experience with you.

The other thing with truffles is their ephemeral nature, which some just don't get; they are not like say a prime piece of wagyu that becomes the centre of a meal, truffles do their best work in partnership with other ingredients where they become haunting and elusive, bringing an unmistakable perfume to dishes.

This soup is a perfect example. Made from the simplest of ingredients, it had our close friends amazed at the flavour, even D, who is no fan of nettles, liked it and all thought it the teensiest bit better than the truffle sauce that accompanied the roast chicken and goose fat roast potatoes, which was my pick for the night.

Truffle & Nettle Soup
(serves 6)

150g nettle leaves*, rinsed and drained
30g butter
3 or 4 small white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1.25l chicken stock, homemade
3 egg yolks
200ml double cream
salt and fresh ground pepper
30g truffle, very thinly sliced**

Melt the butter in a pot and sweat the nettle leaves until just wilted. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the potatoes and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Mix the egg yolks with the cream, then whisk in a little of the soup liquid, then pour this mixture back into the soup, off the heat, stir in well and do not boil or the soup will curdle. Season to taste then add the truffle slices. Put the lid on the pot and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Reheat carefully if necessary and serve.

*some friendly commenters have pointed out that nettles are available at some farmer's markets
**a truffle slicer is best for this job, producing paper thin slices of truffle
 
  posted at 7:44 am
  12 comments



12 Comments:
At 10:07 am, Blogger Thermomixer said...

Sounds like we should be eating at your place tonight.

If you haven't eaten all of them already then try a very simple dish. Start by heating heavy duty plates in the oven, cook some pasta - tagliatelle/liguine - when cooked, drain & mix some butter or oil thru pasta - take plates out of oven and place on table in front of lucky diner. Place some butter (2 tsp) on plates & then shave some truffle over. Allow the aroma to fill the room & place pasta on top. More shavings or truffle, some S&P and enjoy.

I can smell them from here.

 
At 11:06 am, Blogger Lucy said...

Oooo...haunting and elusive.

Yes, please.

I found a great little patch of nettles 'tother day. Shall have to get out the gloves.

 
At 11:40 am, Blogger t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Love them Neil.
I had a lucky break a couple of years ago down here when a local orchardist planted some Spanish hazelnut trees. Low & behold a few years later some truffles appeared!
Now after CSIRO tests they were deemed to ne a 'cousin' of truffles, having not quite the pungency of the Alba but sharing its characteristic of losing its mojo when cooked.
All that aside, a simple hand made pasta with truffled free range egg, crumbled toasted hazelnuts & shaved truffle was a local food ephiphany!

 
At 12:05 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This is a wonderful truffle story! You always are so perfect Neil . . . it is so much more then it's shared, not just the moment but for all times later!

 
At 1:26 pm, Blogger Kalyn said...

I have never had truffles or nettles either one. I've had truffle oil (which I hear is artificially flavored, but tasty) and truffle salt (dynamite!) I want to taste this!

Thanks for making me the patron saint of dieters, I like it!

 
At 2:07 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi thermomixer, just don't forget the wine!

To late, we've gone through all 3 truffles already, but I love the sound of your dish.

Hi lucy, your very own patch, good for you! Nettles make a great soup in their own right, if you like, follow my recipe, substitute vegetable stock for the chicken and leave out the truffle.

Hi gobbler, OMG! White truffles, even if they were *only* a close cousin. And free! That was a lucky break. That's one ephiphany I would have liked to share.

Hi tanna, all food is better when shared, good cooks like you instinctively know that.

Hi St Kalyn, I'm rather overdue for confession. How many Hail Zucchinis do you think that might be?

 
At 4:14 pm, Anonymous Kens soup recipes said...

I've never heard or even had a soup like this. It sounds good and I'll definitely have to try it. I like the fact that it's so easy and has few ingredients also. Good job Neil.

 
At 6:45 pm, Anonymous Duncan | Syrup&Tang said...

So you'll be bringing a vat of this deliciousness to the Bloggers' get-together, right? Oh dang, it's got chicken stock in it... Can you slip me a canister while no-one's looking, Neil?

 
At 11:16 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said...

I was going to say that haunting and elusive are such great descriptive terms, but Lucy beat me to it already.

I can smell the dish as well. Mmmm, mmmm.

How much did the truffles cost?

 
At 9:39 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi ken, I'll never die wondering about flavour combinations, thanks for your kind words.

Hi duncan, you're onto me! I bring this and *remember* at the last moment it's not vegetarian, then I get it all to myself.

Hi thanh, Simon Johnson are selling top quality at $2700kg and second quality at $2500kg.

 
At 11:44 am, Blogger thanh7580 said...

Well, if you're going to buy truffles, you may as well buy top quality seeing as its only a small $200 difference (he says tongue in cheek).

So what does 3 truffles equate to then, $200? And how long does it last. Are you using one truffle alone for the soup? I'm thinking of maxing out my credit card and maybe, just a small maybe, buying a truffle.

 
At 12:12 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi thanh, truffles come in all shapes and sizes, you need to tell them how many grams you want and they will do their best to get one of that size for you, but it won't be exactly the weight you ask for, just as close as they can get it. I would recommend nothing smaller than 30g, which will set you back about $90. I got my truffles on a Friday and they were still really good on the following Wednesday. All in all, I had 100g and got four dishes from them. If it helps, the dish that my wife asked for to be repeated was the truffled scrambled eggs, very easy to do.

 

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