A sophisticated but easy spring soup

April 21, 2007|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Tribune Media Services

So quick, so easy, so chic! That's how I would describe the first course I am planning to serve for a special dinner in a few weeks. This opener -- Spring New Potato and Garlic Soup -- is made with a mere handful of ingredients, takes about 30 minutes from start to finish to prepare and definitely has a sophisticated taste and look. It's the answer for discerning but harried cooks.

The garlic flavoring comes from Boursin, a creamy garlic- and herb-scented French cheese (easily found in most supermarkets). It is broken into bits and melted in warm half-and-half to form the base of the soup. Parboiled, thinly sliced new potatoes are stirred into the silken smooth cheese mixture, and fresh snipped chives and parsley are added as a garnish. Because no flour or other thickener is used, the texture is light, and amazingly, the heaviness one would expect from a potatoes and cheese combo is not present.

I am planning to ladle this delectable potage into individual soup bowls for my party. However, a novel and increasingly popular way to serve soups is to use espresso or demitasse cups and offer the small servings as appetizers. This particular potage would lend itself beautifully to such a presentation. A single recipe yields 4 servings (about a cup each), but if you opt for miniature portions, you can double that to 8.

The soup would make a fine prelude to roast leg of lamb, baked ham or grilled salmon fillets. Or accompany it with an omelet or a frittata and a mixed greens salad for a stylish springtime lunch or supper.

Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.

Spring New Potato and Garlic Soup

Serves 4

3/4 -pound small new red-skinned potatoes (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter), scrubbed but not peeled

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups half-and-half

5-ounce package Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs, broken into small pieces (see note)

ground white pepper

4 teaspoons chopped flat leaf parsley plus, if desired, a few extra sprigs for garnish

4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives plus, if desired, a few whole chives for garnish

Halve the potatoes and cut into slices that are 1/8 -inch or less thick. Bring a large, heavy saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and salt. Cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 5 to 6 minutes after water returns to a boil. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Add the half-and-half and Boursin to the same saucepan in which the potatoes were cooked. Place the pan over medium low heat and stir until cheese melts, about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture come to boil.

Add the cooked potatoes to the half-and-half mixture, and cook just until they are warmed, 1-2 minutes. Remove and season soup with salt and white pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into 4 soup bowls and garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of parsley and chives. For extra visual pizazz, top each portion with a couple of parsley sprigs and a few long whole chives, if desired.

Note: There are several brands of garlic- and herb-scented cheeses, but for this soup, Boursin with Garlic and Fine Herbs is the best choice. It is available in the cheese department at supermarkets.

Per serving: 358 calories, 14 grams protein, 25 grams fat, 15 grams saturated fat, 21 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 82 milligrams cholesterol, 1,242 milligrams sodium.

Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.

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