In lieu of my fancy nonstick v-shaped roasting rack, I typically roast whole chickens or turkeys on top of chopped carrots, celery, and onions. While they suspend the meat just above the heated pan to allow browning on the underside, the low-lying vegetables also allow the meat to melt into the pan juices, creating the fabulous sticky caramelized skin candy that clings to the bottom of the pan.
With a relatively short cooking time, chicken roasted over vegetables is a no brainer. With tender meat, crisp skin, and caramelized vegetables bathed in savory pan juices, it usually results in a great one pot meal. Turkey is a different beast. The long cooking time of roasted turkey transforms the underlying vegetables into saturated soft melted jewels. Most people might consider long braised vegetables useless. Spent. Done. Toast. Kaput. Flavorless. Discard the vegetables and strain the pan juices. Blah. Blah. Blah. I guess I'm a rule breaker and a heretic because I don't discard the vegetables.
Sometimes, I've mashed them into pulp before swirling them back into the pan juices as a natural thickener. Occasionally, I've served them to the side with a dollops of sour cream and grated fresh horseradish. Most of the time, I've eaten them straight from the pan as savory sweet treats.
Last weekend, I repurposed them.
After roasting a 15 pound turkey for hours, I heaved the bird from the pan to rest and scooped the braised vegetables onto a small platter before storing them in the refrigerator.
Pureed Carrot Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons.
I pulled the carrots, celery, and onions from the refrigerator. To perk up their long sleepy braise, I sauteed sliced shallots and minced garlic in olive oil. When the shallots started to caramelize, I deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup white wine along with 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. I brought the stock to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and tumbled the reserved vegetables into the pan. For zing, I showered the vegetables with a heaping tablespoon of citrusy sumac before covering the pan to warm everything through.
When the stock reduced by half, I carefully blended the vegetables and stock into a velvety puree. After returning the puree to the pot, I added a 1/2 cup chicken stock and a splash of heavy cream.
Goat Cheese Croutons.
Pureed soups need crunch. I jacked up the crunch factor with the crisp tang of deep fried goat cheese.
I divided 4 ounces of fresh chevre into quarters, rolled them into small sticky balls, and shaped them into four small cheese discs. After rolling the discs through flour, egg wash, dried bread crumbs, and fresh minced parsley, I slid them into the freezer for an hour to harden.
After heating the soup to a plopping spitting simmer, I ladled it into small soup bowls and pan seared the croutons in buttered olive oil until they were gooey and golden brown. Moments before the croutons collapsed into a fried cheesy mess, I carefully dropped them into each bowl with a sprinkling fresh thyme leaves.
With deep roasted layers of flavor, the silken puree was light, rich, and complex. While the sumac brightened the sleepy puree with brash citrus undertones, the oozing goat cheese added creamy tang and crunch.