A few weeks ago, I received samples of some of the most beautiful truffle products from Gourmet Attitude, a truffle importer founded by the dynamic and gourmet-obsessed Céline Labaune. From our very first email exchange it was clear that Céline was passionate about truffles.
I’ve often told my husband Marc that I prefer truffles to diamonds, and I do mean that literally. He would never dare to buy jewelry for me, but truffles? There’s no limit to how many he could lavish on me! So needless to say my connection to Céline was immediate.
As I opened Céline’s package and held her gorgeous little jars in my hand, I had to resist the temptation of opening them right away just to have a taste. So I set them on my desk where they remained for several weeks. I never brought them near the kitchen for fear that I wouldn’t be able to restrain myself.
Every time I sat down to work, I would stare at my little truffle jars. Before long, I realized I needed to create recipes with them that were a little out of the ordinary — recipes that would not only highlight the magnificent taste of the truffles, but also offer a new experience to the taste buds.
So when I happily stumbled upon a few bunches of cardoons at my local supermarket a few weeks ago (click on Prepping and Blanching Cardoons to read about this lucky find), I knew right away that my first recipe would be a creamy cardoon soup, adorned with Gourmet Attitude’s “black truffle carpaccio.”
Just before serving the soup I opened the precious jar. Immediately, the sublime scent of the truffles permeated the kitchen. And when we tried the first spoonful of the soup, Marc and I fell silent and closed our eyes. The delicate taste of the cardoons was perfectly balanced with the earthy flavor of the truffles, and the smoothness of the soup was superbly contrasted by their slight crunch.
It was heaven on a spoon!
For instructions on how to prep and blanch cardoons, click on the link below, or here. If you cannot find cardoons in your local store or farmers’ market, don’t despair! The velouté can be made with frozen artichoke hearts and tastes very similar. See cook’s note for the instructions.
J Vineyards, Pinot Gris 2006
To balance the creaminess of the soup, the earthiness of the truffles and the delicate flavor of the cardoons, I needed a wine with good structure, no oak and not too much acidity or minerality. The J Vineyards Pinot Gris 2006 turned out to be all of this and so much more! The first thing that greets you is its pleasing and delicate floral aroma. At first sip, a totally different experience takes place. Beautiful notes of nectarine, pear and honey explode in the mouth, all enveloped in the most luscious texture. When sipped in between spoonfuls of the creamy cardoon, you’d think that the soup and the wine had been made for each other!
Cardoon Soup with Black Truffle Carpaccio
active time: 30 min
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium Vidalia or Spanish onion – skinned, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 8 oz (227gr) Yukon Gold potato (1 large) – peeled and cut in 1/2” cubes
- 2 1/2 lbs (1.1 kg) blanched cardoons
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 cups spring water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 8 Italian parsley sprigs & 6 thyme sprigs – tied in a bundle with kitchen string
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
- half a 2.8 oz (79gr) jar Black Truffle Carpaccio or truffle oil as garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives as garnish
- Step 1: Heat a large heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onion, stir well and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until just golden, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and wine. Stir well and continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the wine has reduced to a syrupy sauce and has almost all evaporated. Add the potato cubes, blanched cardoons, stock, water, salt, pepper to taste and herb bundle. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot and slow-simmer for 40 minutes until the cardoons are very tender. Remove the herb bundle and discard.
- Step 2: Purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor until very smooth. Strain in a medium sieve and return to the soup pot and gently re-heat at medium heat. Add the crème fraîche and stir until well incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Step 3: Ladle the soup into soup bowls, put a spoonful of black truffle carpaccio (or a spoonful of truffle oil) in the center, sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: You can replace the cardoons with frozen artichoke hearts. Use two 8 oz packages of artichoke hearts and reduce the water to 2 1/2 cups. Make the soup and strain exactly as for the cardoon soup.
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Even after peeling the cardoons, this vegetable tends to be a bit stringy. So to make a super-smooth soup, I like to strain the soup before serving it. Make sure to use a medium sieve (the holes are wider and more open than a fine sieve — see below). It would be very difficult and time-consuming to try using a fine sieve to strain this soup.
Pour some of the soup in a medium sieve, 2/3rds of the way.
Force the soup through the sieve with a silicone spatula.
When there is nothing left but a thick paste, discard the paste and pour another batch of soup in the sieve. Repeat until the entire soup has been strained.
Disclosure: I received unsolicited free samples from Gourmet Attitude — but would not have featured them here if I didn’t think their products were outstanding.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.