Sunday, February 1, 2009

Light comfort food, Part One: Soupe Savoyarde

For four Sundays in February I'm trying out a comfort food recipe from the latest edition of Cooking Light, in an attempt to answer the question: can light comfort food satisfy the same way the rich, fat-laden stuff does?

For part one, I made the French recipe Soupe Savoyarde, a stew of winter vegetables including potato, turnip, celery root, leek, and onion, simmered together in a creamy broth and served with a white cheddar-topped baguette slice.

My first comment, in making this recipe, would be to make sure the vegetables are chopped to the specified size. Most were supposed to be cut in 1/2 inch pieces, but mine were closer to an inch in size. This meant it took more than double the time it should've for the vegetables to become tender.

So, the hour it should've taken me to make the stew turned into close to two hours, and I was ravenous by the time I dished it out into my bowl.

One other thing I modified was the cheesy baguette. The recipe recommended putting the cheese-topped bread in the bowl and then pouring the hot stew over top, allowing the cheese to melt and help thicken the broth. I opted to broil the baguette slices in the oven and serve them alongside the stew, dipping the cheese bread into the broth from time to time.

Oh - I also used 2% milk, since that's what I had on hand (the recipe called for whole milk), so I saved some fat and calories that way.

Impressions: well, it filled me up. After the first bowl I was stuffed. I liked how the leeks infused the broth with a mild sweetness, and the vegetables were a decent consistency - not too firm, not too mushy - once they'd been cooked enough. I'd have to say though, despite the addition of salt and pepper, there wasn't a whole lot of flavour. It was definitely a mild dish. Next time, rather than cook the vegetables in water I might cook them in chicken or vegetable stock, to add a touch more oomph at the end. I'd probably add garlic, as well.

Dipping the baguette into the stew was tasty though, and I like that the bread stayed crisp. If I'd followed the recipe and poured the broth over top it would've gone soft almost immediately.

Finally, the presentation. On its own, the stew isn't much to look at - the broth is white, and the vegetables are white. Maybe this is an insult to the traditional recipe, but I sprinkled over some parsley at the end to give it a small hit of colour.

All in all, I'd say it was filling, but not entirely satisfying.

Soupe Savoyarde

1 baking potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 cups thinly sliced leek (about three large)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
8 1-oz slices French bread
8 1/2-oz slices sharp white Cheddar

Place potato in medium bowl; cover with cold water to 1 inch above potato. Set aside

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan and cook 7 minutes until soft but not browned. Add leek, turnip, celery root, and salt and pepper. Place sheet of aluminum foil directly over vegetables. Cover , reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard foil.

Drain potatoes; add to pan. Stir in 2 cups water. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Heat milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around the edges. Do not bring to a boil. Gradually stir hot milk into vegetable mixture and season as needed.

Preheat broiler.

Place bread slices on baking sheet, in single layer. Add cheese now, if desired. Once bread is crisp, place in bottom of bowl and pour soup over top.

Serving size: 1 1/4 cups soup per bowl. Recipe serves 8.

Calories per serving: 311
Fat: 10.5 g (sat. 6.2, mono 2.7, poly 0.8)
Protein: 12 g
Carbohydrates: 43.6 g
Fiber: 4.9 g
Cholesterol: 29 mg
Iron: 2.7 mg
Sodium: 640 mg
Calcium: 278 mg

Courtesy Cooking Light, Jan.-Feb. 2009

Next Sunday: Cassoulet



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