Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup Recipe

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

I make a lot of soups and freeze many of them in single servings so that they are quick and easy to place in the lunch bag on weekday mornings. They’re healthy and nutritious, not to mention tasty.  I like to have a variety of different soups on hand that includes those that are broth-based and hearty vegetable along with those that are cream-based or puréed.

The recipe I am sharing today is a new recipe creation that is a cream-based vegetable soup.  It’s the perfect soup for winter because it uses what we often refer to as winter, or root, vegetables. These are ones that are traditionally harvested late in the fall and they store and keep well over several months – think of potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, and parsnip, for example.

This is an easy soup to make and it blends a number of wonderful flavours that include both celery and leek. It’s very lightly spiced and is a silky smooth soup that I would put in the comfort food category. The great thing about this soup is that none of the nutrients from any of the vegetables is lost.  The vegetables are all cooked in the chicken broth and then the whole mixture is puréed so all of the goodness of the vegetables is maintained.

I find recipes that simply call for ingredients in quantities like a small parsnip or 2 medium-sized potatoes or 1 large carrot are not very helpful, particularly for less experienced cooks.  I have, therefore, tested out this recipe and carefully measured the weights of vegetables to be used for best success.  One of the most used (and most useful) tools in my kitchen is my digital scale and I use it all the time. I highly recommend that every cook invest in a good quality digital scale.

I miss my herb garden in winter. However, dried herbs work really well in this winter soup. Because, for presentation purposes, I don’t want any specks of herbs to appear in this soup, I make a small herb packet out of cheesecloth to contain the herbs while the soup cooks. The cheesecloth has a sufficiently open weave that the soup mixture is infused with the flavour of the herbs as it cooks. It’s very easy to remove and discard the herb packet before the soup is puréed.

Different vegetables take different cooking times so this soup starts with those that take the longest – rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery.  Give them about 15 minutes headstart before adding the leek and let it cook for 10 minutes then add the potatoes which take the least amount of time to cook.

I make good use of my immersion blender for cream and purée soup making. However, you can certainly use either a blender or a food processor to purée the vegetables.  I generally allow the soup to cool for 30-40 minutes before using my immersion blender and, sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I put the soup pot in a sink full of cold water for a few minutes to speed up the cooling process.  I know some people do use their immersion blenders in really hot soup. I recommend you check your instruction manual for your immersion blender to see what it says about using the blender in hot liquids.

I recommend that whole milk be used in this recipe (or, alternatively, you could use a milk-cream blend for a richer soup). I have tested freezing this soup and find it freezes well for me; however, it is very important that at least whole (not skim, or partly skimmed) milk  be used if you intend to freeze any of the soup. Using a fat free or low fat milk will result in the soup breaking down when frozen and it just does not hold its structure when it is reheated. I know that some people frown on freezing puréed and cream soups but I have been freezing them with great success for many, many years.

When making the roux (the butter and flour) for the cream base, make sure you stir the roux while it is blending to prevent it from scorching. Add the milk slowly to the roux, whisking it constantly to prevent lumps from forming. It’s quite unappealing to have lumps in what is supposed to be a silky smooth cream soup.

Adding some shredded cheese to this soup makes a richer soup and certainly enhances the flavour. While a basic cheddar cheese could certainly be used, my preference is to use a shredded cheese blend such as mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan.

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup
Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp. dried fennel
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oz rutabaga, diced
5 oz carrots, sliced
2 oz parsnip, thinly sliced
2 oz celery, sliced
7½ oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into ¼“ slices
7 oz potato, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1½ cups whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup shredded cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)

Method:
Bring chicken stock to a boil in medium-sized soup pot.

Cut small 4”-5” square of finely woven cheese cloth. Make the herb packet by placing the bay leaf, basil, fennel, marjoram, and parsley in the center of the cheese cloth. Gather up ends of cheesecloth, tie tightly with kitchen string, and add the herb packet to the chicken stock along with the garlic, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for 15 minutes.

Add leek and cook 10 minutes then add potatoes and cook vegetables 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Remove from heat and discard the herb packet. Purée mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or food processor.

Melt the butter in separate medium-sized soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly to blend the two ingredients and to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and continue to whisk milk mixture until it is thickened to desired consistency then add the puréed vegetable mixture. Stir mixture until heated then add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended into soup. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, a sprinkle of parsley, and a drizzle of a good quality finishing olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!

Yield: Apx. 5-6 servings

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Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

Yield: apx. 5-6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. dried fennel
  • 1/8 tsp dried marjoram
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 oz rutabaga, diced
  • 5 oz carrots, sliced
  • 2 oz parsnip, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz celery, sliced
  • 7½ oz leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into ¼“ slices
  • 7 oz potato, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese blend (e.g., mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in medium-sized soup pot.
  2. Cut small 4”-5” square of finely woven cheese cloth. Make the herb packet by placing the bay leaf, basil, fennel, marjoram, and parsley in the center of the cheese cloth. Gather up ends of cheesecloth, tie tightly with kitchen string, and add to the chicken stock along with the garlic, rutabaga, carrots, parsnip, and celery. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook vegetables for 15 minutes.
  3. Add leek and cook 10 minutes then add potatoes and cook vegetables 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.Remove from heat and discard the herb packet.
  4. Purée mixture until smooth using an immersion blender or food processor.
  5. Melt the butter in separate medium-sized soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly to blend the two ingredients and to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in the milk until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and continue to whisk milk mixture until it is thickened to desired consistency then add the puréed vegetable mixture. Stir mixture until heated then add the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and blended into soup.
  6. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, a sprinkle of parsley, and a drizzle of a good quality finishing olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!
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Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

> Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

 

Cream of Winter Root Vegetable Soup

 

Sweet Valentine’s Afternoon Tea

Afternoon teas are a splendid and relaxing way to spend an afternoon and catch up with friends.  Teas are perfect for special events such as birthdays, Easter, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. For me, though,there doesn’t have to be an occasion or an event to have afternoon tea – I love the experience at any time of the year.  That said, Valentine’s Day is a great time to host an afternoon tea for friends. It’s a gorgeous girly treat! So, come along and have a peek at my afternoon tea before my guests arrive.

My color theme for this year’s Valentine’s Tea is pink and yellow, both cheery colors in the mid-winter. These beautiful tulips were grown here in PEI in the Vanco greenhouses in Mount Albion, not far from Charlottetown.

I am centering the afternoon tea around the coffee table in front of the fireplace. Cozy sofa and chairs invite a relaxing afternoon of conversation while sampling some of my home-baked treats.

I have chosen to use my Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china for the tea and I love, love, love three-tier servers!

For an afternoon tea, it is not necessary to have several kinds of sandwiches, though that is quite lovely. Two to three varieties are just  fine. Traditional tea sandwiches for my event today include tomato and shaved turkey, and ham and Havarti cheese. I like to use different breads for the sandwiches because it adds variety to the tea plate. Sometimes I cut the sandwiches into different shapes but, today, I have simply used the traditional fingertip sandwich.

Fresh scones straight from the oven are always divine, especially with a light dusting of sugar.

I picked up the jams on a recent trip to England – I am always on the lookout for items suitable for one of my afternoon teas!

Clotted cream and lemon curd, two staples on the tea table! I could eat a jar of lemon curd just on its own!

Tender and flaky scones make a great base for the lemon curd and red berry jam.

The fresher the scones, the better!

The tartness of the lemon curd plays off well against sweet jam.

And, on the sweet plate: Simple custard with a dob of lemon curd served in small stemmed liqueur glasses, lemon spritz shortbread cookies, and pink macarons.

I love the delicate shades of pale yellow and pink together!

The macarons are flavorful, light and airy in texture.

A selection of specialty teas from the teabox allows each guest to choose her favorite!

I find tea always seem to taste so much better out of a china cup and saucer!

And, for the finale, my Dreamy Hawaiian Cupcakes frosted with buttercream twirled into a rose formation.

These festively decorated chocolate-dipped strawberries will be a real hit!

And, a glass of sparkling  wine to accompany the cupcakes and strawberries.

All set for a relaxing afternoon.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine's Afternoon Tea
Valentine’s Afternoon Tea

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Funny how certain foods will evoke great memories. When I was a small child, our family often went to a tiny local restaurant in North Tryon, PEI, on Sunday evenings for dinner.  Simmons’ Restaurant was built and run by Jean and Harold Simmons and they served up really good traditional home-cooked meals.  One of the desserts I most fondly remember from their restaurant was coconut cream pie with mile-high meringue. Every time I have coconut cream pie, I remember Sunday dinners at the Simmons’ restaurant.

Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

While not all coconut cream pie recipes use coconut milk, I have included it in my recipe to give the pie extra coconut flavor. It does make a difference.  Some tips on successfully making custard pies:

  • Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a smooth custard.
  • Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs while they are cold but let them come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before using them in either the custard or the meringue. Room temperature eggs will blend better into the custard and, for the meringue, they will whip faster with more volume.
  • Temper the beaten eggs with a couple of tablespoons of the hot custard mixture before adding the eggs to the custard. This will prevent the eggs from curdling.
  • Stir the custard constantly as it cooks to prevent it from scorching.
  • Add the sugar slowly to the egg whites when making the meringue and do so after first beating the egg whites to the soft peak stage.
  • Work quickly to make the meringue as it is important that it be applied to piping hot custard in order for it to seal to the filling. This will also help prevent the meringue from shrinking.
  • When applying the meringue to the pie, make sure it completely covers the custard, right to the pie shell edges. This will seal in the custard and will also help to keep the meringue from shrinking.
Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients:
1 – 9” pie shell, baked
¾ cup granulated sugar
3½ tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup whole milk or 10% blend cream
3 extra large egg yolks, slightly beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
1½ tbsp  butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavoring
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Meringue:
3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature for 30 minutes
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Method:
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium-sized saucepan.
Combine coconut milk and milk (or blend cream). Gradually whisk liquid ingredients into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (apx 10-15 minutes).

Stir approximately 2 tbsp of the hot custard mixture into the beaten egg yolks then pour the eggs into the custard and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Gently stir in the coconut.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To make meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Pour hot coconut custard into cooled, baked pie shell.

Spread meringue over hot custard, spreading to the edges of pie shell to completely seal it.

Swirl meringue into decorative peaks with the tip of a knife, if desired. Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is lightly tanned in color. Cool pie on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

Yield: 1 – 9” pie

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Coconut Cream Pie

Yield: 1 - 9" pie

Ingredients

  • 1 – 9” pie shell, baked
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3½ tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk or 10% blend cream
  • 3 extra large egg yolks, slightly beaten (reserve egg whites for meringue)
  • 1½ tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Meringue:
  • 3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature for 30 minutes
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Combine coconut milk and milk (or blend cream). Gradually whisk liquid ingredients into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (apx 10-15 minutes).
  3. Stir approximately 2 tbsp of the hot custard mixture into the beaten egg yolks then pour the eggs into the custard and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove custard from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and almond flavoring. Gently stir in the coconut.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. To make meringue, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat egg whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Pour hot coconut custard into cooled, baked pie shell. Spread meringue over hot custard, spreading to the edges of pie shell to completely seal it. Swirl meringue into decorative peaks with the tip of a knife, if desired. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is lightly tanned in color. Cool pie on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.
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Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie