Image via joyosity
Rutabagas get a bad rap for being the dowdiest winter vegetable. They're the vegetable equivalent of that bulky, itchy wool sweater you loathe to pull out of storage each winter, but you're always glad to have around. They're surprisingly complex in flavor, and, just like that sweater, they're coming back in fashion.
The vegetable is technically a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, creating the ultimate earthy, sweet taste we cherish during winter. Rutabagas pair beautifully with smoky flavors like bacon or ham, but in this sneakily vegan chowder we're using smoked paprika to create depth. You may even wish to add a few drops of liquid smoke, too!
Recipe inspired by Deborah Madison
Ingredients for Soup
1 1/2 pounds rutabagas
3 Tbs butter
Large pinch of dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, chopped (1-2 cups)
One 1/4-lb potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
Ingredients for Croutons
2 Tbs butter
1 cup 1-inch bread chunks
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1. Thickly peel the rutabagas, quarter them lengthwise, then slice crosswise about 3/8-inch thick.
2. Melt the butter in a wide soup pot with the thyme and bay leaf. Let it brown a little, then add the onion. Give it a stir and cook over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the rutabagas and the potato. Toss in a teaspoon of salt and cook, partially covered, until everything has wilted down, around 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until the rutabagas are tender but not mushy - 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Puree have the vegetables and return them to the pot. Or puree the whole batch, if you'd like. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
4. Melt the remaining butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread chunks, toss them in the butter, then reduce the heat and cook until crisp and golden, around 5 to 8 minutes. Add the smoked paprika, toss the croutons, then turn off the heat. Serve the soup with croutons in each bowl and a delicate sprinkle of extra paprika over the top.