The folks from Great British Chefs (for whom I occasionally write) have recently launched a new website called Great Italian Chefs featuring inspiring recipes from the chefs behind Italy’s best restaurants, most of which are admittedly outside of my price range. So it’s reassuring to have some of their recipes collated on one website so that I might try them for myself.
One such recipe was this Healthy Fermented Gazpacho Soup by Fabrizio Marino, head chef at Italy’s only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant Joia. I’ve already been having fun experimenting with fermented foods, but my pursuits have largely been limited to sauerkraut, kefir and sourdough.
This soup, made with carrots, beets and celery fermented with umeboshi plum, gave me the opportunity to push my fermentation boundaries. And with the added bonus of smoked celeriac, I learned a bit about about home smoking, too (news flash: it’s easy).
The result? Totally delicious. I served the soup to friends who described it as “amazingly good”. You could serve either the soup on its own or the smoked celeriac on its own – both our amazing in their own right. But the two together are truly a case of the sum being more than the parts.
I definitely recommend having a browse through Great Italian Chefs for Italian inspiration beyond the usual pizza and pasta. These are recipes that will push your boundaries, impress your friends, and reward you with outstanding edible creations that are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat.
Healthy Fermented Gazpacho Soup
- 200g of carrots, grated
- 200g of celery, grated
- 500g of beetroot, raw and grated
- 1/2 sprig of rosemary
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2g of salt, plus extra to season
- 2g of sugar
- 4g of umeboshi
- 600g of tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
- white wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1kg celeriac, peeled and grated
- 70g of extra virgin olive oil
- 50g of wood chips, cherry wood
- 8 slices of wholemeal bread, thinly sliced
- cress, to garnish
- 1 stick of celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 strawberries, sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
- Place the grated vegetables into a bowl along with the herbs, salt, sugar and umeboshi. Transfer the mixture into a vegetable mill and push down to compress the vegetables. Leave to ferment in the fridge for at least two days, until the vegetables develop a slight acidity
- Once the fermentation process has finished, remove the vegetables from the fridge and blitz in a blender (I use my trusty Froothie Optimum 9200). Add the seedless tomatoes and blend until you obtain a smooth mix. Pass through a fine sieve and season to taste with a little vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt
- Place the celeriac in a saucepan and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on. remove from the heat and add a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and allow to cool. When cool, blend the celeriac to a smooth purée and transfer to a metal bowl
- Place the wood chips into the bottom of a deep metal tray, then place a wire rack over the top. Rest the bowl of celeriac puree on the wire rack and cover with another metal tray acting as a lid. Transfer this to the hob and heat until the wood chips begin to smoke, then remove from the heat and leave to cool with the bowl still covered
- Grease the bread with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with salt. Lightly toast on each side in a hot pan, then spread the celeriac purée onto the bread ready to serve
- To serve, pour the gazpacho into a bowl or deep plate. Balance the croutons on tops of the soup and garnish with cress, vegetable cubes, strawberry and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil