I was looking out my apartment window the other day when my gaze came to rest on a tree about fifteen feet away from the house. I have to climb a set of stairs to get to my door, so when I look out the window I see branches and foliage at eye level rather than tree trunks. This particular tree has elongated sage colored leaves that come to a point at both the tip and the stem. I have looked at this tree hundreds if not thousands of times, along with the many many other trees visible from the window, but never really considered it. But this particular day, something clicked, and when looking at the little black fruits hanging from the branches, I realized, ‘holy crap! we have an olive tree in the back yard!’ I’ve been living here going on 18 months, and shockingly, I had never noticed it before!
Thats a little bit how I feel about rutabagas too — I walked past piles of them at the grocery store for years before ever picking one up. And when I finally did try it, I found it to be delicious! A humble, nutritious, adaptable, and hearty vegetable, the rutabaga is an under appreciated and under utilized vegetable. Whether roasted, mashed, boiled, made into a gratin, or used as a soup base, rutabagas can be supremely tasty.
This soup, besides being tasty and more complexly flavored than you might expect from the short list of ingredients, is incredibly easy to prepare — coarsely chop some vegetables, saute, add stock, cook, add cream and spices, then puree. Easy as… well, I would say pie, but this is WAY easier to make than pie! :) Try it on a chilly fall evening with some crusty bread, a green salad, and a glass of red wine, and I am sure you will not be disappointed.
And one final comment about the olive tree — as trite as it may sound, you will often find surprises in places you were never looking for them, particularly right under your nose. Take a good look at your surroundings — you might be surprised with what you find!
And one final final note: last week Modern Beet turned 1 year old! Thanks to everyone who reads this blog and for all the thoughtful comments you have left! I’ve had a lot of fun adding new recipes and musings to Modern Beet, and also learning from all you other wonderful cooks in the foodie blog world!
Rutabaga Bisque with Smoked Paprika
3 T. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 lb. rutabaga, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
2 c. half and half
1 t. ground white pepper
2 1/2 t. smoked paprika
Melt butter in a large soup kettle. Add the onions and celery, season with salt, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add rutabaga and stock, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes until rutabaga can be easily pierced with a fork. Add half and half, white pepper, and smoked paprika then stir to blend. Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion or regular blender. Garnish with a bit of smoked paprika. Enjoy!