Yoram Nitzan has long been considered one of Israel’s best chefs—known for his seafood at his stellar Mul-Yam restaurant in Tel Aviv’s port that sadly burned to the ground in 2015. Since then, he has followed a growing Israeli chef trend by cooking kosher foods at Nomi, a restaurant in the Intercontinental David Hotel in Tel Aviv right near the Carmel Market. “There is so much to be explored in high-end kosher cuisine,” Nitzan told me recently. Then he shared with me his white root vegetable soup with white truffle oil, an absolutely delicious dish perfect for these winter months.
I had discovered several of the ingredients at markets and homes in Jerusalem in the early 1970s. For example, I first discovered kohlrabi, one of my favorite vegetables, at Jerusalem tables where people ate it raw with dips or in salads; it was brought to Israel by German immigrants. I discovered Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes, an American tuber with no connection to Jerusalem, growing in gardens in the Old City. I suspect that the American Colony, missionaries who came from the States in the 19th century, brought them over, as tubers were easy to store in the hold of ships.
Like kohlrabi and sunchokes, all the ingredients for this soup (recipe here) have their own story of how they came to Israel. But what makes the soup delightfully and irreverently Israeli is the truffle oil. This surprise finishing touch mixes the familiar with the new with no culinary rules except the rules of kashrut.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.