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
150g nettle leaves*, rinsed and drained
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