This past weekend as ominous warnings about Hurricane Sandy were reaching the air waves, I found myself at a book-signing at the farmers’ market in our small New England town. An engaging local bookstore owner had set up a table for me where copies of my recent cookbooks were displayed. Although the storm was still two days away, dark clouds and intermittent rain were discouraging signs that sales would not be brisk. But the bookseller and I were both wrong!
The town was teeming with visitors (many from the East Coast and the Midwest) since it was Amherst College family weekend, and the local folks too were out in full force. Everyone wanted to stock up on food supplies for the days ahead. As people stopped by, concerned about what to cook to have on hand in an emergency, they eyed my book, Sunday Soup, and asked if I could suggest an easy recipe they might prepare from it. Quickly I suggested Fabulous Fall Roots Soup—a humble creation made with carrots, leeks, and rutabagas.This scene was repeated so frequently that I began to refer to this dish as the “storm” soup.
At home I prepared a batch myself as Sandy approached, knowing that this potage could be heated upon my gas cook top (or even on a gas grill) if the electricity went out. Fortunately, we didn’t lose our power and suffered only howling winds, but I ended up sharing the soup with others all through the week.
Even though the storm is past, many are still without power and suffering from devastating loss. If you live in one of the affected areas and have electricity, this would be a simple, inexpensive gift to offer others, or to make and take to a shelter. Soups are definitely comfort food, and plenty of people in our country would welcome a taste of that right now.
Fabulous Fall Roots Soup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (3 to 4 medium leeks)
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium rutabaga, (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and diced
8 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups crème fraîche (available in the dairy section at supermarkets)
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1. Heat butter in a large, heavy pot with a lid over medium high heat. When melted and hot, add leeks, carrots, and rutabaga. Sauté vegetables until softened, for 10 minutes or longer. Add stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, for about 30 minutes.
2. Puree the soup in a food processor, blender or food mill, and return the soup to the pot. Or, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the crème fraîche. Season with salt, as needed. (The soup can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat when needed.)
3. Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Garnish each serving with a generous dollop of the remaining crème fraîche and with a sprinkling of parsley. Serves 6
At the Market Note: Rutabagas, also known as yellow turnips or Swedes, are considered a member of the cabbage family. They are large and round (3 to 5 inches in diameter) with a thin yellow skin and yellow flesh beneath.