About two years ago, the “hungry” hubby and I attended an eight-course dinner in honor of Patrick O’ Connell, chef proprietor of the “Inn at Little Washington”. The idea was that eight local chefs were each to prepare a dish from Patrick’s new book “Refined American Cuisine”. Quite daunting if you ask me with the great man himself seated right there to taste each rendition of his recipes. This was the same night I met J, a lady of great taste in haute cuisine. She was a regular at “The Inn at Little Washington” so she was quite familiar with the menu offering and would know immediately if the recipe interpretations were off. One item on the menu that I remember quite well is the Apple Rutabaga soup. It was a soup chock full of flavor but so smooth and refined that you wondered how it could be infused with so much complexity.
Well to start with, I have never heard of rutabaga but I soon found out that it is very similar to the turnip. It is relatively tasteless eaten as is but according to Patrick O’ Connell, the flavor is brought about by maple syrup!
The first time the “hungry” hubby and I attempted making this soup, it did not turn out the way we had it at that fateful dinner. We did not know whether to include the broth in the puree or leave it out. We finally determined that we do need the broth since we could not strain the puree without it. We had quite a giggle after that; the cluelessness of it all! My second attempt this time around was more a success; even I was surprised. This time it was deliciously rich without diminishing gratification due to increasing satiety.
¼ lb (1 stick) butter (113gm)
1 cup roughly chopped onion (230gm)
1 cup peeled, cored and roughly chopped Granny Smith apple (230gm)
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped rutabaga (230gm)
1 cup peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped butternut squash (230gm)
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped carrots (230gm)
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped sweet potato (230gm)
1 quart good chicken stock (1 lt)
2 cups heavy cream (480ml)
¼ cup maple syrup (60ml)
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, apple, rutabaga, squash, carrots, and sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Add the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until all of the vegetables are cooked through and tender.
Puree the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the same pot you used to cook the vegetables. Add the cream, maple syrup, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Return the pot to the stove, bring the soup to a simmer, and serve.
This recipe is very flexible, you do not have to exactly measure one cup each. Those are just guidelines. Before you add the syrup, salt and cayenne pepper taste the strained puree and adjust your seasonings accordingly. Also, I did not use the full 2 cups of heavy cream, the best thing to do is to whisk it in slowly and as you attain the consistency and color you like, stop.
I pureed the vegetable in 3 batches. Do not attempt to put it all in your food processor (unless you have one of those huge commercial ones) or you will end up with a big mess on your hands. I still ended up with a big mess since I could not determine which sieve to use. I eventually settled on a very fine mesh chinois. It is important to puree the vegetables very well by letting the food processor run for approximately 30 seconds for each batch. Have patience straining it through the chinois. Every drop is “liquid autumn”!