Rutabaga & Leek Soup
So, who's afraid of a rutabaga?
Rutabagas, a yellow-orange fleshed cousin of the turnip, get their name from the Swedish rotabagge. In England, we call them Swedes and serve them mashed with butter and salt, just like mashed potato. I have to admit that I love rutabagas mashed and will eat them on their own (hey, I also was a kid who loved to eat cabbage). I'll take a rutabaga over a turnip anyday - they're much sweeter and a pretty orange-yellow color.
I was excited to try Deborah Madison's recipe for Leek and Rutabaga Chowder in her book Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen,partially because it was a new way to cook rutabagas and partially because it would give me another opportunity to use my brand new immersion blender. The soup basically calls for rutabagas and leeks (and a potato) to be cooked in butter with herbs, then cooked in a vegetable stock until semi-tender. You then puree half the mixture and serve with smoky croutons.
On tasting the soup, I thought it was a bit thin tasting and added some half-and-half to add some richness. I probably added 1/4 -1/3 cup and it made a huge difference. I served the soup with creme fraiche, topped with paprika and finely ground smoky mesquite seasoning, and watercress. Madison's smoky croutons called for Smoky Spanish Paprika, but I couldn't find it. I thought the mesquite seasoning worked well in a very tiny amount. Too much and it overwhelms this mild, sweet, and delicious soup. The creme fraiche was perfect - I can't imagine serving this soup without it.