Keep weeknights simple

Entertaining

Entertaining: Carrot-turnip soup is at the root of a casual meal.

February 24, 2002|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

Recently, we asked two young women, both students at Amherst College, to come for a casual supper on a Wednesday evening and discuss studying in France for a semester. One of them had just finished a semester in Paris, and the other was getting ready to start hers in the same city. My husband and I both spent a year at the Sorbonne, so we always encourage students to study abroad.

The supper was set for 7:30, and because I was busy all that day, I chose a very simple French menu. Appetizers consisted of bowls of black and green ripe olives. Then, to begin the meal I served a cream of carrot and turnip soup, which I had prepared late that same afternoon, and followed with potato omelets and a mixed green salad for the main course. To end our dinner, I bought some delicious sorbets and cookies from a local store.

After they left, I realized that my husband and I should entertain more often in this relaxing way, with menus that can be prepared quickly and without stress. The anchor of the meal was the carrot and turnip soup which took very little time to assemble. A mixture of sauteed carrots, turnip and leeks was simmered in stock, then pureed and enriched with a hint of creme fraiche. This soup was such a hit that I am planning to make it the centerpiece of another small midweek supper in a few days.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Carrot and Turnip Soup With Creme Fraiche

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 / 4 cup unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups chopped leeks (2 to 3 medium leeks, white parts only)

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced

1 large yellow turnip (rutabaga), about 1 1 / 4 pounds, peeled and diced

8 cups chicken stock

creme fraiche (recipe follows)

kosher salt

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat butter in large heavy pot (with lid) over medium-high heat. When melted and hot, add leeks, carrots and turnip and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Lower heat, cover pot and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and puree in batches, using food processor, blender or food mill. Return soup to pot and stir in 3 / 4 cup of the creme fraiche. Taste and season soup with salt as needed. (Amount of salt will depend on the stock. If you used regular stock, very little will be needed, but if you used unsalted or reduced-sodium stock, you will need to add 1 teaspoon or more of salt.)

If not serving immediately, cool soup to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate. (Soup can be prepared 2 days ahead. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to warm.)

Ladle soup into shallow soup bowls. Garnish each serving with generous dollop of remaining creme fraiche and with sprinkle of parsley.

Creme Fraiche

Makes 1 1/3 cups

1 cup whipping cream

1/3 cup sour cream

Whisk together cream and sour cream in medium bowl and mix well.

Let stand, uncovered, in warm spot 6 to 7 hours or overnight until thickened.

Creme fraiche can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 week.

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