Chef Ken’s love of cooking began when his father moved his family from California to Yvoire, France. He achieved national recognition at age 21 at the famous Los Angeles restaurant La Guillotine and has continued that meteoric rise ever since. Today helming his critically acclaimed and heavily awarded Napa Valley institution, La Toque, Chef Ken continues to set the bar for excellence and change the way we experience the world around us through food.
It’s that time of year when we return to the places, people, and food that heal us. The places where we always feel safe; the people who see into our hearts; and the dishes that make everything all better. They fill us up and set our worlds right again.
I was struck by the recent study published touting the effects of turmeric in treating reflux. What struck me most was the shock and awe it garnered in the media. Why are we still astonished when the oldest answers are still the best answers? Why is it that “treatments” are only medicinal if they come with prescriptions? So many ingredients in our cupboards hold long established powers of protection and healing. What is more powerful than the very food that builds and sustains our bodies at the most basic level?
And isn’t it funny that our bodies know what we need, even if we don’t? When I am stressed and anxious and overwhelmed (all great triggers for reflux!), I find this soup most soothing. It’s not a conscious decision, but a craving for the effect it has. Thus, I wasn’t surprised at the “news” about turmeric. Not only am I well-versed in the untold power behind my cupboard doors, I have been using it for my entire career.
At this time of year when we are returning to the things that make us whole again, let us stop and appreciate the reasons behind our traditions, the wisdom in our repeated stories, the ingredients in the meals we crave – you just may find the answers you’ve always been looking for.
Winter Vegetable Bisque with Turmeric and Ginger
(Makes 2 ½ quarts. Vegan & dairy free.)
1 white onion, sliced
5 leaves Napa cabbage, sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
8 large white button mushrooms, sliced
½ head of cauliflower, chopped
1 thumb fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
2 fingers fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
1 ½ tablespoons salt
2 14 ½ oz cans unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ qts water
In a large pot, cook the onion and cabbage in the canola oil until soft, but not browned.
Add everything else, bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for an hour.
Transfer to a blender in small batches and puree until velvety smooth. Strain if desired. Verify the consistency and add water as needed; every batch cooks a little differently.
Confirm seasoning and add salt to taste.
- One of my favorites is Pumpkin Seed Oil from Styria, called Kurbiskernol, if you can find it – drizzled on top it is delicious!
- Crème fraiche seasoned with curry powder is another good option to drizzle on top.
- If you’re ambitious, crispy fried shaved parsnip or salsify is terrific here.
- Toasted pepitas add a little crunch to any of these options.