Creamy Heart of Palm Soup

Creamy Heart of Palm Soup

Indigenous to South America, heart of palm is a delicious white vegetable that is harvested from the inner core of some palm trees. With a taste similar to artichoke, fresh edible hearts of palm can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted and are simply delicious just barbecued with a little bit of butter and sea salt. Even though it is very common these days to find fresh hearts of palm in Brazilian supermarkets, the preserved ones have been eaten for many years and, as a consequence, they still reign supreme in home-made recipes. I remember eating the heart of palm soup at the Tea Houses that were trendy in the south of Brazil in the 90s. These houses were really enjoyed by everybody specially in winter because they offered a wide range of comfortable food, such as cakes, sweets, soups, pies, juices, tea and coffee. The good thing is that they offered the all-you-can-eat service: pay a fixed price and eat as much as you like! The white asparagus and the heart of palm soups were the two most adored on the menu.

This heart of palm soup is very creamy and delicate and its a perfect winter warmer dish to have in a cold night with some fresh bread and a glass of white wine. In Australia, hearts of palm are sold in their preserved form and can be found in gourmet shops or online. Here in Hobart it I found them at the Foodstore grocer.

 Ingredients 

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 leek (white part only), sliced

3 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

800 g preserved hearts of palm*

250 ml vegetable or chicken stock

600 ml thickened cream

400 ml full-cream milk

2 tbs corn flour

½ cup basil leaves, finely chopped

Basil leaves, extra, to garnish

Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh slices of bread, to serve

*Available from selected gourmet shops and online

 Instructions 

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the leek and bay leaves, stirring, for 5 minutes or until leek is soft and transparent. Add the garlic and hearts of palm and fry, stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Combine the stock and cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Using a stick blender or mixer blend the soup until smooth.

3. In a jug, dissolve the corn flour in the milk and pour into the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the soup is thickened. Stir in the basil. Serve warm with extra basil and bread slices on the side.

Serves: 4-6