Vegetarian Times (May 2013)
"Radish soup sounds like something Miss Hannigan would serve Little Orphan Annie."
These words were uttered in our kitchen halfway through making this Piquant Radish Soup with Crème Fraîche.
It's true, right? Doesn't it sound a bit sad? Like something your grandparents had to eat during the depression? (Though we expect our grannies would have ditched the crème fraîche for a big ol' dollop of full fat sour cream.)
Still, we were eager to try the recipe. After reading our first issue of Vegetarian Times, the first recipe we tried -- Miso-Glazed Cauliflower and Kale Salad -- was a huge success in our book. For the next recipe, we went for something a bit more unique.
And radish soup sounded like just the kind of unique we wanted. Radishes are plentiful right now in our area, with nearly every vendor at the farmers market offering some variety of radishes. And though we've roasted radishes and used them all varieties of salads, we have not yet tried them in liquid form.
So we purchased a few bunches of radishes, broke out the food processor and got to work.
There's nothing particularly unusual in this dish: radish, a potato, some onion and horseradish, plus the crème fraîche for garnish. And there's also nothing challenging about putting it all together. A food processor (or some diligent knife work) is needed to finely chop the vegetables. They're cooked briefly in butter, covered water and then simmered before being pureed in the food processor.
But there are a few problems from where we sit.
First, there's the matter of the color. We try not to judge a dish just by the way it looks, but rather than turning out a lovely shade of pink, our radish soup came out more flesh colored (you know, at least for us white boys). That may be due to our radish selection (we chose Cherry Belle radishes -- the recipe doesn't specify a variety). But the color is a bit off-putting. Who wants a soup that's the color of a thumb?
And there's the matter of taste. We tried the soup hot, we tried it cold, we tried it in between (the magazine says you can serve it hot or cold). There wasn't a temperature at which we found we enjoyed the soup. Ours tasted more of potato and horseradish than it did of radish itself. In fact, it was almost indistinguishable from a potato soup -- a bland potato soup.
Still, we appreciate the author going on a limb to try something new to do with radishes. In the five-plus years we've been closely following food magazines, we can't remember ever seeing another radish soup like this, and that's really saying something as we see variations on dishes repeated time and again each year.
But, on this recipe, we owe our radishes an apology.
Sorry radishes, we should have just eaten you raw.
1 lb. radishes, halved (3 cups)
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium white onion, quartered
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
⅛ tsp. white pepper
1 Tbs. prepared horseradish sauce
2 Tbs. crème fraîche, plus more for garnish, optional
1. Pulse radishes and potato in food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl, wipe out food processor, and set radish mixture aside.
2. Pulse onion in food processor until finely chopped.
3. Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add radish mixture, white pepper, and 31/2 cups water. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
4. Remove soup from heat, stir in horseradish, and purée in food processor in batches until smooth. Add crème fraîche, and purée until combined. Season with salt, if desired. Serve garnished with radish, greens, and crème fraîche (if using).