We wanted to create a simple and impressive appetizer to go with our Bistecca Fiorentina for a nice cold-weather meal. This elegant, creamy soup may seem indulgent, but it contains no cream at all—it’s simply puréed vegetables.
Special equipment: Use a mandoline to create the beet chips. If you don’t have one, just use a vegetable peeler to make beet strips.
You will also need a deep-frying/candy thermometer for the beet chips.
Game plan: Make this soup vegan by replacing the butter with olive oil.
This recipe was featured in our Valentine’s Day story.
- 1Heat olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once butter foams, add leek and season well with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leek is softened but not completely cooked, about 3 minutes.
- 2Add parsnips and stir to coat in oil. Cook until parsnips are softened but not completely tender, about 4 minutes. (Do not let the vegetables color.)
- 3Add cauliflower, stir, and cook for about 1 minute. Add salt and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until vegetables are completely tender, about 8 to 9 minutes.
- 4Remove from heat and allow soup to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Process in a blender until completely smooth. Return soup to the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
For the beet crisps:
- 1Trim top off beet and peel it, leaving a 1-inch-wide layer of skin near the top so that you don’t dye your hand while slicing. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, make very thin slices of beet—about 8 whole slices or 1/3 cup.
- 2Fill a small saucepan with 1/2 inch oil. Heat over medium heat to 375°F. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
- 3Add several beet slices and fry, shaking the pan a little, until beets crisp up, about 30 to 45 seconds. Remove beets from oil with a slotted spoon and place on the paper-towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining beet slices.
- 4Serve soup topped with beet chips.
Beverage pairing: A medium-bodied Austrian Grüner Veltliner would be a nice match with the earthy cauliflower and beet elements of this dish. Try the 2005 Hiedler Grüner Veltliner Löss.