Can you hear it? Spring has officially arrived in Southern California. Every morning I wake up to a barrage of sweet bird calls and the sound of my curtains rustling from the morning breeze. This beautiful time of year is made even more sweet due to the resurgence of the glorious fruits and vegetables that are now back in season. Nothing says “Spring” like bright green asparagus selling for 99 cents a bundle.
Speaking of green, Saint Patrick’s day is this Friday! Now, I don’t have any Irish blood to speak of, but I’ll take any chance to make a special meal. I have always loved the traditional Irish-American feast of corned beef and cabbage but love the next day feast of corned beef sandwiches even more. So, let’s skip the middle man and make it a real meal with a gorgeous vegetable soup.
Irish Pub-Style Vegetable Soup
A good friend of mine backpacked Europe last year and spent a good chunk of time in Ireland. As she was eating on a budget, she often ate lunch at whatever pub was nearby. She found one particular pub near her hostel in Galway that served a lunch special of vegetable soup, half sandwich, and a cup of tea for 5 euros. She ate there a lot. The vegetable soup, she said, was the perfect combination of creamy and heartiness that took the chill from walking around the streets of Galway right out of her. After researching similar recipes online and scouring my own recipe repertoire I created a re-creation of her beloved soup to serve her this Saint Patty’s Day.
Begin with your basics from any Irish vegetable soup recipe: onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, vegetable stock, butter, and heavy cream.
Peel and chop your vegetables into small, equal sized pieces so that they all cook evenly.
In a large stock pot sweat your onions, celery, and carrots in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
Stir 2 tablespoons of butter into your mixture and add in your parsnip, turnip, and potatoes. You can use any type of potato you like, but I like Yukon Gold potatoes for the rich flavor and color. Cook until your potatoes are just about soft, around 5-7 minutes, then add a teaspoon of salt and pepper along with 4 cups of vegetable broth. Stir and cover. Bring your pot to a boil then let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until all of the vegetables are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork.
Once your soup is ready to go add half of it to a blender and blend until relatively smooth, about 15 seconds.
Pour one 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream into your blender and blend, once again, until totally smooth.
Add your blended soup back into your stock pot and combine everything together. By blending only half of your soup you get a really nice balance of creaminess and hearty chunks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top.
While your soup is cooking you can start prepping everything for your sandwiches. I’m going to make two types today: one with a cabbage slaw and boiled potato slices and one with a delicious horseradish aioli and sharp Irish cheddar cheese. Start by bringing four small red potatoes to a boil on the stove and let them cook until just soft. Pull them out and pop them in the fridge until they are cool enough to slice. For your slaw chop a half a head of green cabbage and a half of a small green apple up into small pieces.
Combine in a bowl with one shredded carrot and 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
The aioli is incredibly easy: Combine 4 tablespoons good creme fraiche, 1 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, and 1 tsp Inglehoffer cream style horseradish in a bowl and it is ready to spread on your sandwiches.
Corned beef: the holy grail of all that is so bad for you but so, so good. I purchased my corned beef from Bristol Farms, but you can use corned beef that you have prepared yourself and sliced into relatively thin pieces.
Grab yourself a couple of loaves of artisan rye and pumpernickel bread; I picked these beauties up at Bristol farms, as well. Slice them into not-too-thick, not-too-thin slices and get ready to assemble your sandwiches.
Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potato Sandwiches
Remember the potatoes from earlier? Slice them up into 1/4″ thin slices and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Take two pieces of your rye bread and spread each slice with a generous helping of course ground mustard.
Layer each sandwich with 3-4 slices of corned beef,
A couple of slices of sharp Irish cheddar,
And pile high with a handful of your slaw and potato slices.
Finish off with a toothpick to hold the monster together. Is your mouth watering yet?
Corned Beef Sandwich with Horseradish Aioli
After spreading your pumpernickel bread with a good layer of your aioli, pile 3-4 slices of your corned beef onto the bread,
Add two slices of sharp Irish Cheddar,
And serve. Sometimes the beauty is in the simplest of details.
Serve your hearty sandwiches with the hot soup and a couple of good, Irish beers. I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend Saint Patrick’s Day.
Irish-Pub Style Vegetable Soup (makes 8 servings)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 stocks celery, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
- 1 large turnip, peeled and chopped
- 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped parsley for garnish
Peal and chop your veggies into equally sized pieces. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to soup pot over medium heat and sweat your onions and celery for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add in 2 tbsp of butter and stir. Add in your carrot, parsnip, turnip, and potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, about 1 tsp of each. Cook vegetables for 5-7 minutes. Add vegetable broth, cover your pot and bring to boil. Drop temperature down to a low simmer and let cook until the vegetables are all soft and pierce with a fork easily. Pour 1/2 of the soup slowly into a blender and pulse until just about smooth. Add cream and blend until totally smooth and thick. Return the blended soup to your soup pot and combine with rest of soup. Taste and add salt and pepper as you desire. Serve with chopped parsley on top.
Simple Cabbage and Apple Slaw
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 green apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Combine all ingredients in bowl and let sit for 10+ minutes for the flavors to come together. Serve alone or on sandwiches.
Horseradish and Creme Fraiche Aioli
- 4 tbsp good creme fraiche
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp cream style horseradish
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve on sandwiches