It’s a winter meets spring sort of vibe in Seattle right now. We are teased by the sun daily and the markets are showing hints of the coming season with loads of tulips and tender leeks. The days are getting longer and the blossoms are exploding which makes me so excited for warmer days to come but then I’m pulled back down to reality with the next downpour of rain. But hey, the rainbows sure have been epic!
Here is a meal that reflects this moment in the season; warming for the last days of winter yet introducing spring and reminding you of the amazing things it will have to offer. This quick and easy soup is full of flavor and texture; sweet leeks, silky white beans, earthy cauliflower, bright lemon zest and crunchy hazelnuts. For dessert, a rustic tart with the last of the pears which are begging to be eaten. I’ve added buckwheat to the dough for a bit of tenderness and a nice nutty flavor. Enjoy!
leek soup with lemon, charred cauliflower & hazelnuts
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 2 Medium or 4 small leeks (3 cups worth)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 14oz can white beans
- 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 2 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
Cut off the root end and the dark green leaves from the leeks. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and run under cold water to get out any dirt hiding in the layers. Finally, slice into 1/4″ pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat and sauté leeks until soft and just about to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 of the lemon zest and let cook for a few seconds to get fragrant then add stock and water and beans and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. (You can absolutely leave the soup as is if you’d like a more rustic soup).
Heat oven to 350º and toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet until fragrant and a shade darker, about 10 minutes. Wrap in a clean dish towel and let sit for a few minutes to steam then rub the nuts in the towel to remove the skins. Don’t worry if some of the skins don’t come off. Let cool and chop coarsely.
Turn oven up to 450º Chop cauliflower florets into bite size pieces and scatter them on a parchment lined baking sheet then drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in oven until tender and slightly charred, about 10 minutes.
To serve, ladle soup into shallow bowls and top with the cauliflower, hazelnuts, parsley, the remaining lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.
pear buckwheat tart
makes an 8″ tart
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons buckwheat flour
- 2/3 cup AP flour, plus 1 Tablespoon
- 1 Tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes and chilled
- ice water
- 1lb ripe pears, cored and sliced into 1/2″ wedges
- 1/4 cup whole, raw almonds
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
To make the dough, mix together the buckwheat flour, AP flour, 3/4 teaspoon sugar and pinch of salt. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and toss to coat with the flour then press each piece of butter between your fingers and break into small, crumbly pieces. It’s ok if the pieces are uneven, that will create a flaky dough. Just make sure no piece is larger than a pea. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons of ice water and gently mix with your hands until the dough will hold together when you press a bit with your fingers, the dough will seem a little dry but don’t worry. (If the dough is too wet and gets over worked by too much squeezing or kneading it will cause the gluten to develop which will lead to a tough dough). Form the dough into a ball then press it into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Once chilled, roll out the dough on a floured surface into a circle about 1/8″ thick, put it between two sheets of parchment paper and chill for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425º. In a food processor, grind the almonds, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, rosemary, 1 Tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt until fine. Remove the dough from the fridge and use the parchment paper to line a baking sheet. Set the dough on the sheet and sprinkle the almond flour in the center. Loosely arrange the pear slices leaving 3″ of space from the edge of the dough then fold the edges up over the pears to create a rustic edge about 2″ wide. Be careful to not have any deep dips or valleys so the juices don’t run out and burn. Chill tart for 30 minutes before baking. Once chilled, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush all over the crust and pears then sprinkle with sugar and bake for 30-35 minutes until it is well browned and crisp. When done, immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you fancy.