If you’re a reader of this blog, you may remember a short series I presented last year, entitled “What’s Up Lunch?”. This was a series of posts in which I relayed stories about some of my successful and unorthodox lunchtime food and wine pairings. (You can find the original series posts here).
I hadn’t thought of the series in a while; not until a couple nights ago, in fact. The remindering impulse was an absolutely delicious pairing I enjoyed for dinner Wednesday evening. In the aftermath of this gourmandish exercise in oeno-culinary indulgence, I decided to not only resurrect the series, but to expand it to include dinners as well! And who knows, maybe even breakfast!
Anyhow, the dish I made was Garlic & Chard Soup with Sweet Potato. Basically, you cook down huge masses of organic chard in a light vegetable broth, whilst sautéing 8-9 cloves worth of diced garlic in olive oil (making sure to add the garlic to the oil BEFORE heating, so that the garlic not only cooks well, but also infuses the oil!). Once the chard has cooked down enough to allow for the inclusion of other ingredients, you add in cubed sweet potato (cubes about the size of small-to-medium dice), and both the garlic and the oil. Keep the soup at a low boil until the potato starts to soften. At that point, pour in a couple healthy splashes of wine (preferably the same wine you’ll be serving the dish with! That’s what I did …), a few good pinches of Herbs de Provence, and sea salt and ground black pepper to taste (my taste is hearty amounts of both!). At this point you turn the temp down, and let the soup simmer a bit. Once the boil is off, it’s then important to drink some of the remainng wine that didn’t go in the soup. At least a glass. After that, it’s time to prepare cheese. I’ve used a number of different cheeses in the past, and my favorite is probably Gruyère, but this time, I used yogurt cheese, which proved to be utterly fantastic, just the right amount of tang to counterbalance the richness of the soup. I like to cut thin strips of cheese, as they melt better, and make for a nice appearance as well. Anyhow, once you’re ready to serve the soup (i.e. it’s in the bowl!), you lay the cheese on top, and then you ideally serve just as the cheese is starting to show its first signs of melting.
And the pairing? Our new 2009 Ridge Vineyards Estate Merlot! It was EXTRAORDINARY with this soup!
Didn’t know we were releasing a 2009 Estate Merlot? Surprise! We are, and it will hit the ground running in April. Here are winemaker Eric Baugher’s label notes:
Ridge made a merlot from the Monte Bello vineyard in 1974, 1976, and from 1991 to 1997; this is our first bottling since then. In the excellent 2009 vintage, the Casa Grande parcel and the six-acre merlot section of 25 Acre were fermented separately, and combined for this limited release. Quarterly racking off the lees clarified the wine naturally, and maintained its freshness. Intense fruit allowed the use of seventy-five percent new american oak barrels, adding hints of spice. A variety known for its elegance, this approachable merlot will be enjoyable over the next decade. EB (3/11)
And the label itself …
Hey, where’d the soup go?
Yeah, that’s right. Right into Papa’s tummy …