Everywhere I turn these days, I see members of the onion family -- ramps, scallions, chives, shallots, even my garden is popping with onion grass. This recipe combines delicate ramps with sweet caramelized shallots, and mild but tangy chives. And the watercress? Its pepperiness is just one of my favorite flavors. Spring in a bowl. One note about the ingredients: this soup has a delicate flavor so be sure to use a wine that you love and good quality stock. —[email protected]
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium stockpot. Add the ramps and cook for 1 minute. Add the watercress, white wine, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, until the flavors have been well-incorporated and the liquid has reduced significantly. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender (it will remain chunky). Pour it through a sieve, mashing the vegetables against the sieve to remove all of the liquid. Discard the vegetables and reserve the liquid. Return the liquid to the pot and keep it hot while you make the roux.
In a separate stockpan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and stir for about 2 minutes until the flour is completely blended, but don't let the mixture deepen in color. Remove the roux from the heat.
Add the hot vegetable liquid all at once, and whisk until the roux is completely incorporated. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for one minute, whisking continuously until smooth. Set aside while you fry the shallots.
To fry the shallots, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a small, deep saucepan. Peel the shallots and cut them crosswise. Separate the rings so that they look like the tiniest onion rings you have ever seen. Prepare a plate with newspapers topped with paper towels to drain the shallots when they are done.
To test the oil to see if it is ready, toss in a small piece of shallot. If it sizzles and begins to turn golden, the oil is ready. Remove the test shallot, and add the other slices (the shallots should not be too crammed into the pot, so, depending on the size of your pot, you may want to do this in more than one batch). Fry until the shallots are golden brown. Don't wander too far because if the oil is hot enough, they will be ready in a minute or two. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and drain them on the paper towels.
Just before serving the soup, add the cream and gently heat it. Serve in individual shallow bowls topped with the crispy shallots and a few chives snipped over the top.