Soups to the Rescue for Cold Winter Nights

During the hectic days of the holiday season soups were my “go to” dish. When the frigid temperatures arrived in our New England town along with snow last month, I made a lentil soup with smoked garlic sausage. My spouse loved it and took seconds, and then thirds. I also packed up a container to take to a friend who had returned home from a short hospital stay. For Christmas Eve I prepared a hearty vegetable potage topped with melted Gruyère that we shared with our son and his family. And, finally we invited out of town pals to welcome 2023 with us, and on the first day of the new year we savored bowls of a delicious broccoli soup with curried crème fraîche. The recipe for the latter is featured here today.

Although this broccoli soup is perfect for chilly weather, you can serve it any season of the year. Light yet totally satisfying, it needs only 15 minutes to simmer atop the stove. Broccoli florets (bought packaged to save time) and chopped leeks are sautéed in olive oil, simmered in chicken broth along with diced potatoes, then puréed. A bit of cayenne pepper adds some heat, but it is the crème fraîche scented with curry powder that is the secret to this dish’s vibrant flavor. The cream is swirled into the puréed mixture and is also used as a garnish.

Serve this soup with a salad of seasonal greens tossed in a lemon vinaigrette along with a warm baguette. Homemade cookies and a bowl of Clementines would make a perfect dessert.

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy and joyful 2023!



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Broccoli Soup with Curried Crème Fraîche

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks (2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only)
1 russet potato (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into 1-in cubes
1 lb broccoli florets (see market note)
6 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper plus more if needed
2/3 cup crème fraîche (see market note)
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley or chives, for garnish

1.In a large heavy pot (with a lid), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potato and broccoli florets and sauté, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Purée the soup in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return the soup to the pot. Or, use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.

2.In a medium bowl, mix together crème fraîche and curry powder. Whisk half of the mixture into the soup until well blended. Taste the soup and season with more salt, and additional cayenne pepper (for a spicier taste) if needed. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.)

3.Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of the remaining crème fraîche and some chopped parsley or chives.
Serves 6

Market notes:
Using broccoli florets is a big time saver; they are available packaged in most supermarkets in the produce section.

Crème fraîche, a thick cream used in French cooking, is available in the dairy section of many supermarkets. If you can’t find it, the following recipe works well.

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream

Whisk cream and sour cream together in a medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. (Crème fraîche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in the refrigerator.) Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Adapted from Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom Rizzoli 2016

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