Burnt Butter, Pistachio and Potato Soup
Autumn came early this year. Here's the soup for that time, with optional salmon.
6 Cloves of Garlic, minced (or more, lets face it)
Half a lemon/and its zest
1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios,
Sour Cream/Kefir/Oat Cream
800g baking potatoes, medium sized. (large will take a little longer.)
A bunch of sage, stalks finely minced
Poppy Seeds (or other seeds, like linseeds and sunflower seeds!)
Put your potatoes on a baking tray, put them in the oven, and turn the temperature to 180°C. I left mine in there for about an hour (medium sized potatoes) until the skin had crackled away from the flesh. Take them out, cut them in half and allow them to steam dry while you start the main part of the soup.
Put the butter in a large pot, turn to a medium heat. Melt it down, swirling occassionally. The butter will begin to change colour, the milk solids start to brown. Turn the heat right down low. Add the garlic, pistachios and sage stems. Keep them moving around quickly with a wooden spoon. Keep an eye on the colour of the butter, the smell of the garlic, the soft aroma of the sage, and the nuttiness of the pistachios. The butter will get to a dark tan colour and all the aformentioned aromas will be in full swing. Take you half a lemon, and give it a single, solid squeeze into the mixture. This will stop the browning process, and give some dynamism in the long run. Stir it in, then add about a litre and a half of water to the pot. Cover with a lid, and simmer.
While it is simmering, scoop the potato skins out, and add them to the pot. (Not pictured, I salt and oil the potato skins, and roast them in the oven for a bit until crisp - a wee snack for the cook).
At this point, puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you do it too late (or with too little water), you'll turn the potatoes to glue for your next arts an crafts project. (If you do happen to do this, add more water, and whisk the gluey potato in until it is well dispersed, then reduce down, that'll fix it, mostly).
Reduce it down slowly to your desired texture. Then, stir in a tablespoon of oat cream or sour cream, or about 2-3 tablespoons of kefir, and reduce a little more to get your preferred texture. In the photo, imagine a very loose puree. I do a dab test to see how it sits on the plate - mostly flat across the top with a small bevel as the edge meets the plate.
Seasoning time: SALT FIRST. Salt that sucker until all the flavours pop - a creamy, nutty, earthy flavour with just the faintest hint of sour (or less, if you've used oat cream). Then, stir in white pepper in half/quarter-teaspoon increments until you find something you like (mine was about a teaspoon and a half). It should be a warm and friendly bit of attiude at the end of a mouthful.
Get the salmon on - your choice in how you cook it - I like an oven roasted, skin brushed with oil, salted then and blasted at 220°C for about 8-9 minutes, skin side up on a bit of baking paper in the upper half of the oven. That'll get you something that (depending on the thickness of your salmon) is what I'd call medium after resting in the hot soup when you serve it. (switch the oven to grill mode for a minute if you're not getting your desired skin crisp).
On top, sliver a dozen or so pistachios with a sharp knife. In hot oil, give the sage leaves a bit of a sizzle, about 20 seconds per leaf, and remove to a paper towel (its amazing watching the oil permeate the sage leaf's cell structures!). Sprinkle the soup in a beautiful arrangement of seeds, pistachios, a scattered of fresh and crispy sage leaves, and bee pollen, which gives an amazingly vibrant (and cheap) floral burst! Zest a bit of the lemon rind over top, and serve with the salmon, skin side up to maintain that crispy skin. The residual heat from the soup should continue to cook the salmon to a delicious medium.