As I mentioned in a previous post I recently made dinner for my mother-in-law’s birthday party, and this bisque was how we started the meal. Of everything I made that night (all of which was delicious of course!), I have to say that this was probably the best dish of the bunch, and was a huge crowd pleaser. Carrots and ginger are such a classic combination of flavors, and the addition of the slightly sweet basil honey crème really put it over the top.
I do apologize for the photo… I was in the middle of plating for 15 hungry people and didn’t really have time to snap a good pic. Oops!
Serves 8-12 as an appetizer.
2lb Carrots, large dice
1/4c Olive Oil
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Granulated Sugar
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
1tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger
2c Dry White Wine
4c Vegetable Stock
1qt Heavy Cream
Ingredients (basil crème):
3c Fresh Basil
8oz Sour Cream
In a large pot (I used an 8qt) heat your olive oil on high, then add the carrots and 1tsp each of salt and sugar. Cook until the carrots are lightly browned, then add the white wine and simmer on high until it has reduced by half. Add the vegetable stock, water, cream, 2tsp salt, black pepper, nutmeg, grated ginger and honey. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring periodically.
Puree using a hand emulsifier, or by doing separate batches in a food processor or blender, until you have a smooth bisque. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.
During the final simmer it’s time to make the crème. Pulse the basil in a food processor until finely chopped, 20-30 seconds. Add the sour cream and honey, then mix until fully blended and smooth. Keep the crème in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
Once the soup is done simmering it’s time to serve it up! Ladle it into some bowls, drizzle it with the crème, and enjoy… If you want to turn it into an entrée then serve it with some seared shrimp or scallops, or maybe some gnocchi that’s been sautéed in brown butter, or all of the above!
Now let’s talk wine pairings… You could go in a number of directions here. A dry sparkler or Rose, or possibly a drier style of Riesling or Gewurztraminer. I would stay away from anything too grassy, acidic or mineral driven, or anything too big, buttery and oaky. If you don’t do whites or pinks and have to do a red just make sure you keep it light, like Gamay, Frappato, Mayolet, a lighter bodied Pinot Noir, etc. DO NOT have this with a full bodied red, all of the subtle flavors of the bisque will be lost. Below are a few recommendations that I think would be ideal.
Bohigas Brut Reserva Cava N/V, Catalunya, Spain – The Bohigas estate was established in the 13th century and the family has been producing wine from their lands since 1290! The current generation is a father daughter team, Jordi and Maria, and I have to say that they are two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Their wines are simply stunning, and unbelievably affordable. Their Cava Reserva can stand toe-to-toe with some Champagnes in my opinion, and at a third of the cost. On the palate you’ll find notes of candied lime zest, green apple, crushed rock and white flowers, with palate awakening effervescence and a slight yeasty density. A truly unbelievable value. PP Score: 91 (Retail $13-16)
Boundary Breaks Riesling No.239 Dry 2012, Finger Lakes, New York – Boundary Breaks is a newly established winery on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, and in my opinion, they have immediately established themselves as one of the top producers in the region. They are only in their second vintage, and the wines are beyond gorgeous. Bruce Murray’s dream was to create world class Riesling from New York State that could stand up to the top wineries of the Mosel and Alsace… Mission accomplished sir! So their No.239 Dry (No.239 referring to the Geisenheim 239 Riesling clone used for this bottling) is not an overly sweet Riesling, with only 0.6% residual sugar. It is beautifully floral and bright, but still has a slightly fuller mouth feel. On the palate you’ll find notes of Meyer lemon, orange blossom honey and white peach, as well as hints of smoke, tea leaves, and crushed granite. Production on these wines is TINY, with only 350 cases made of the No.239, so needless to say it’s going to be a challenge to find outside of New York… but for the rest of you there are a handful of boutiques that are selling the wine online, just let your fingers do the walking. PP Score: 91 (Retail $16-20)
Idlewild Vin Gris Yorkville Highlands 2013, Mendocino, California – Idlewild is a moderately new producer, but they are already making a big splash in the California wine scene, focusing their efforts on working with varietals that are not commonly found in the United States (i.e. Dolcetto, Barbera, Arneis, Cortese, etc.). Their 2013 Vin Gris is made from Grenache. Despite being a lighter bodied, ethereal wine, it is surprisingly complex. Portrayed are nuances of ripe strawberry, grapefruit pith, melon and dried sage that play enticingly on the palate, balanced by subtle acidity and a surprising presence of tannin, giving the wine a fleeting touch of depth towards the finish. With only 200 cases produced it’s certainly not the easiest wine to find, but it’s worth the search! PP Score: 92 (Retail $16-20)
So there you have it, my bisque recipe and a few recommended pairings. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and will give the recipe and wines a try. As always, more new content is en route, in the meantime crack open a bottle of something special, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!