One of the tastiest, most satisfying birthday gifts I’ve ever received was a dinner at the Inn at Little Washington, deep in the rolling hills of Virginia. The restaurant has long been considered one of the finest in the country, and its plush decor is only a prelude to the opulent flavors that lie in store from chef Patrick O’Connell’s kitchen.
One treat we sampled was this Apple-Rutabaga Soup. I admit I was never a big rutabaga fan; but softened and sweetened by the addition of apple, sweet potato and butternut squash, it came into its own, as an essential element in a sublime soup, the recipe of which is included “Patrick’s O’Connell”s Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington” (Bulfinch Press, $45).
One taste and you’ll realize why O’Connell calls it “liquid autumn.”
I loved the tiniest hint of cayenne pepper. If you have a greater heat tolerance, you may want to up the amount slightly or pass the cayenne around with each bowl to give it a sprinkle of red on top.
Plus, you can make this recipe vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken.
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1 cup peeled, cored and roughly chopped Granny Smith apple
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped rutabaga
1 cup peeled, seeded and roughly chopped butternut squash
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped carrots
1 cup peeled and roughly chopped sweet potato
1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup maple syrup
Salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until all of the vegetables are cooked through and tender.
Purée the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the same pot you used to cook the vegetables. Add the cream, maple syrup, salt and cayenne pepper.
Return the pot to the stove, bring the soup to a simmer, and serve.
Makes 2 quarts or 6-8 servings.