Brussels Sprout and Celeriac Cream Soup, with Parsley Pesto
This simple soup -- which was inspired by a comment from Dylan of Eat, Drink & Be Merry -- has a unique and memorable flavor which would work very well as a sophisticated first course for Thanksgiving dinner. It uses two late-harvest vegetables, Brussels sprouts and celeriac, which, though they are available year-round in most markets these days, are best in the late fall, the natural time for their harvest in temperate climates.
Serves 6 in first-course portions.
1 recipe Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Garlic and Basil
1 cup cooked celeriac, cut up
1-1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 C parsley, minced
1 T course salt
2 cloves garlic
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 T Parmeggiano Reggiano, shredded
red pepper for garnish
salt, hot sauce to taste
Reserve some Brussels sprouts leaves for garnish and purée the rest of the sprouts with the celeriac and 1/2 cup of the broth.
Combine the purée and the rest of the broth in a saucepan and heat gently. Stir in the cream, correct seasoning and keep warm.
Place the parsley, garlic, salt, cheese and zest in a mortar bowl and add a little olive oil. Mash and grind the mixture with the pestle 'til you have a thick paste, adding olive oil if necessary.
Cut some thin curls from the red pepper for garnish.
To serve, ladle soup into warmed soup plates and in it float an island of the parsley pesto along with a sprout-leaf boat with a pepper-curl sail, adding a grinding of black pepper if desired.
Note: the soup and pesto may be made a day or two in advance (and may improve in flavor). Refrigerate until time to serve. Heat gently (do not microwave!), stirring, to just above serving temperature, then let stand 5 minutes in the pot before ladling into warmed bowls.
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