When entertaining in April, I serve dishes like Creamy White Turnip Soup with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Chives. This satisfying potage is made with small white turnips (which are harbingers of spring) that are sweeter and milder than the stronger yellow winter ones known as rutabagas.
These white turnips tinged with purple are peeled and diced, then sauteed along with chopped leeks in butter. This vegetable duo is simmered in chicken stock until tender; then the mixture is pureed and enriched with milk. Kosher salt and white pepper are the only seasonings needed, while toasted breadcrumbs and snipped chives provide texture and color as garnishes.
Although the recipe's title indicates that cream is called for, I actually used whole milk to enrich the soup and give it its smoothness. This pale ivory soup, which takes only about 45 minutes to assemble and cook, can be prepared a day ahead and serves 6. You could offer it as the opener for a spring dinner or serve it with a watercress salad for lunch or a light supper.
Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.
CREAMY WHITE TURNIP SOUP WITH TOASTED BREADCRUMBS AND CHIVES
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (2 to 3 medium leeks)
1 1/2 pounds small to medium white turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, plus more to taste
Toasted breadcrumbs (see recipe)
4 teaspoons chopped chives for garnish
Melt the butter in a large, heavy deep-sided pot set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the leeks and saute, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the turnips and saute and stir 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook at a simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are soft and tender, about 20 minutes.
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. Return the pot to the stove and stir in the milk. Heat on low heat to warm the soup, 2 to 3 minutes. Season soup with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)
To serve, ladle the soup into 6 bowls and sprinkle each serving with some toasted breadcrumbs and chives.
Per serving: 235 calories, 8 grams protein, 12 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 544 milligrams sodium.
Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.
Makes about 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from good-quality peasant bread or baguette without crust
Heat butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, tossing continuously, until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate. (Breadcrumbs can be prepared 4 hours ahead; leave, uncovered at room temperature.)