Parsnip and Leek Soup

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Photo Credit:Jonny Valiant, 2011.

 

 

For those celebrating the religious calendar, Lent is upon us, and for many it is the time to give up meat in our diets. For busy home cooks, this soup can be made in ahead of time, basically because it is an uncomplicated vegetable puree. For an added touch you can dressed-up this soup with a touch of American whitefish caviar, the salty counterpoint to sweet parsnips in the mix, makes the soup plenty festive for Easter Dinner.

 

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
For the Soup:
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut 1/4 inch thick
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut 1/4 inch thick
3 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup whole milk

For the Black-Pepper Cream:
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 ounces whitefish or other caviar, for garnish

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Directions:
To prepare the leeks, rinsed well to remove the sand and grit. Cut the white and pale-green parts only into 1/4-inch-thick semi-circles and set aside.

To Make the soup: Cut a round of parchment to fit inside a large pot. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt, and cover with parchment round (this will help keep moisture in). Cook, lifting parchment to stir occasionally, until leeks are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in parsnips, potatoes, chicken stock, 2 1/2 cups water, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently, partially covered with lid, until parsnips are soft, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture in a blender, being sure to hold lid down. Return soup to pot, and stir in milk. Reheat soup over medium heat (do not boil).

To Make the black-pepper cream: Stir 1/4 teaspoon pepper into creme fraiche.

To Serve: Ladle soup into 8 small bowls, and top each with a dollop of black-pepper cream and 1/2 teaspoon caviar.

Cook’s Notes:
Whitefish caviar is a relatively inexpensive variety and can found at Whole Foods  Markets or specialty gourmet food markets.

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Stir in milk and rewarm over medium heat just before serving. Black-pepper cream can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

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Heirloom Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie

 

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Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck, 2013

Southern Living Magazine raised the ante on classic tomato pie with a sour cream crust studded with bacon, layers of colorful tomatoes, and plenty of cheese and herbs to tie it all together. Nobody wants a soggy tomato pie, so for best results, seed the tomatoes and drain the slices before baking.This recipe is a bit time consuming and may take up to three hours to prepare,  but it is sure worth the effort!

RECIPE BY SOUTHERN LIVING
June 2013

Serves 6 to 8 

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour , such as White Lily®
1 cup cold butter, cut up
8 cooked bacon slices, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream

For Filling :
2 3/4 pounds assorted large heirloom tomatoes, divided (*See Cook’s Notes)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) freshly shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons plain yellow cornmeal

Directions:
Prepare Crust: Place flour in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Chill 10 minutes.

Add bacon to flour mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Gradually add sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Spoon mixture onto a heavily floured surface; sprinkle lightly with flour, and knead 3 or 4 times, adding more flour as needed. Roll to a 13-inch round. Gently place dough in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with 2-inch sides and a removable bottom. Press dough into pan; trim off excess dough along edges. Chill 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare Filling: Cut 2 pounds of tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and remove seeds. Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir together Cheddar cheese, next 10 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl until combined.

Pat tomato slices dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom of crust. Lightly spread 1/2 cup cheese mixture onto crust; layer with half of tomato slices in slightly overlapping rows. Spread with 1/2 cup cheese mixture. Repeat layers, using remaining tomato slices and cheese mixture. Cut remaining 3/4 lb. tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange on top of pie.

Bake at 425° for 40 to 45 minutes, shielding edges with foil during last 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 1 to 2 hours before serving.

 

*Cook’s Notes:
To learn more about how to seed and drain tomatoes, please see Tori Avey’s tutorial at the following link: How to Seed Tomatoes

And a method is briefly outlined below:

  1. Place your tomato on a cutting board, stem side facing up.
  2. Roll the tomato sideways so the stem faces to the right, and cut the tomato down the center “equator” line into two halves.
  3. Use a small spoon or a quarter spoon melon baller to scoop the tomato seeds and any tough white core out of the four seed cavities. Discard the seeds.

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Leek and Celery Soup with Bacon

Serves 8

Ingredients:

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
12 large celery ribs (2 pounds), trimmed and thinly sliced
4 ounces bacon, finely diced
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of country bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup  sour cream
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream (optional)
Lemon olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:
In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the leeks, onions, garlic and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 12 minutes. Add the celery and cook, stirring, until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to moderate. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to half of a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the bacon fat. Add the bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer to the other side of the prepared baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan, whisk in the sour cream and season with salt and pepper.

Beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it almost forms soft peaks.

Serve the soup hot, topped with the bacon, croutons. whipped cream and a drizzle of lemon olive oil.

 

Cook’s Notes:
The soup can be refrigerated for 3 days. Rewarm before serving. Do not whip cream ahead.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor