Paul Pearson of Chicago’s North Pond Enjoys Intense Carrot Soup at Nudel in Lenox, Massachusetts

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24 carrot soup with smoked pickled rock shrimp, scallion, and wasabi tobiko.
24 carrot soup with smoked pickled rock shrimp, scallion, and wasabi tobiko. Photo: Courtesy of Nudel

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Jacob Sessoms of Table in Asheville, North Carolina, talked about a delicious farm egg dish he’d savored at North Pond in Chicago. Now we want to know what’s impressed North Pond sous-chef Paul Pearson. Paul?

Who: Paul Pearson, sous-chef at North Pond in Chicago
What: 24, carrot soup
Where: Nudel, Lenox, Massachusetts

“I was recently in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, and I went to a restaurant there called Nudel. They had a dish that was a smoked and pickled rock shrimp, with what is called a ‘24’ soup. They take 24 carrots and juice half of them, and then they cook the rest in the juice, so it’s a very intense and concentrated flavor. And then it’s finished with wasabi and tobiko. It was very, very refreshing, light, and good flavors. They smoke the rice wine vinegar, and then they use that to pickle the shrimp.

It’s a tiny place; it’s a noodle bar. [Chef Bjorn Somlo] is very local as well. He just uses everything available in the area. He only has about twenty feet, with a little bar in front of the kitchen; you get to talk to him. It’s changing on a daily basis depending on what’s coming through the door.”

Nudel chef Bjorn Somlo responds:

“It’s very simple. We’re a product-based, small restaurant. We do the best with what we have in the Berkshires. We have really cool relationships with farmers, and we try not to ruin it. We got a huge bunch of beautiful carrots, 24 bunches, took 18, and juiced them. Then we cooked the rest of them in their sweet, true-to-flavor pureed broth, with a little touch of salt and a little touch of olive oil. It’s a very simple dish, but it describes us really well, and is all about flavor and texture. We garnished it with smoked pickled rock shrimp, scallion fresh out of the garden, and wasabi-flavored fish roe, called wasabi tobiko.
This was carrot in the nicest way, and the horseradish quality of the tobiko just makes it fun. We served it cold as can be.”

Paul Pearson of Chicago’s North Pond Enjoys Intense Carrot Soup at Nudel