When a strange looking soil-covered bundle of roots arrived in my veg box...the first thing I did was google it. It was Black salsify, Scorzonera hispanica, also known as black oyster plant, serpent root or viper's grass. Apparently it's in the sunflower family and was considered to be an effective cure for the bubonic plague and snake bites until the 16th century...Well according to Wikipedia...
It's reputed to be very nutritious, containing all kinds of good things including fructose which is suitable for diabetics and to taste a bit like artichoke or asparagus...
By all accounts the best way to cook black salsify is to simply steam or boil it. I decided to make a vegetable soup to try it out. I kept the flavours simple because I didn't want to overpower the salsify.
Seasonal Vegetable Soup with Black Salsify
- One leek or one small red onion
- A carrot
- A few chard leaves and stalks and a handful of shredded chinese leaves. Any brassica will do
- Two small potatoes
- A handful of mushrooms.I prefer Portobello or shiitake
- Warm vegetable or chicken stock. I reserve the seasoned cooking liquor when poaching chicken for salads...it makes great chicken stock
- Tomato puree
- A little turmeric
- One clove of garlic sliced finely
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Wash, peel and chop or dice all the vegetables
- Drizzle some olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the prepared leek or onion begin to sauté.
- Add all the other vegetables and season lightly. Add the turmeric and garlic clove. Sauté for a few minutes and then add the hot stock.
- Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender but not over cooked.
- Adjust the seasoning and then serve.
Salsify proved to be a really delicious root vegetable. It's succulent in the same way that well cooked asparagus is, but with a slightly milder flavour.
I love making soups like this. It's a really tasty lunch or light supper and costs a couple of pounds to make. A good way to use up any left over vegetables in your fridge or pantry before you stock up again for the week ahead...great to warm you up on frosty winter days...even better when eaten from my maternal grandmothers Meakin china bowls...shame I just broke one!! :o(
I wrote this post four weeks ago and never got round to publishing it...who would have guessed then that the forecast today would be 17c and sunshine...it's not even spring yet!!