My husband marvels at how easy it is for us to entertain when we’re in Paris. The secret lies in following the “cook some, buy some” philosophy I use here. Take a small dinner that we had for a couple of friends recently. I cooked a delicious winter vegetable and sausage soup topped with grated Gruyère, and prepared the vinaigrette dressing for the salad, but I purchased the rest. That’s right—I made two dishes and bought the other courses. In Paris there’s a fromagerie (cheese shop), boucherie (butcher), charcuterie (deli), boulangerie (bakery) and patisserie within walking distance in every quartier.
For appetizers, I set out bowls of Provençal olives, pistachios, and French radishes that were spread with sweet butter and then dipped in sea salt. The glorious main course soup came next accompanied by garnishes of grated cheese, parsley, and a warm crusty baguette. A salad assembled with purchased greens and sliced mushrooms (both cleaned and ready) plus a couple of delectable cheeses followed. Dessert came from a near-by patisserie. Voilà! There was my “make a little, buy a little” menu.
The French potage (based on a recipe for a “soupe du chalet” I had spotted in a French cookbook) was the star of the night.I watched as both guests downed generous second helpings. To make it I browned bits of smoked sausage, then used a small amount of the drippings to sauté onions, leeks, carrots, and turnips. Next these winter vegetables were simmered in chicken stock, and seasoned with a hint of cayenne. To finish, I added diced potatoes and white beans, and returned the sausage to the pot.
This all-in-one dish improves in flavor when made a day ahead, and needs only to be reheated at serving time. I hope you’ll anchor a winter supper with it, and make life easy by finding special shops in your neighborhood to purchase the rest of the meal!
Winter Soup from the Chalet
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces smoked kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch dice (See note.)
1 1/ 2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (white and light green parts only) about 1 to 2 medium leeks
1/2 pound white, purple tinged turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice, about 1 medium turnip
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
5 cups reduced sodium chicken stock plus up to 1 cup extra if needed
3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
One 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (3 to 4 quart) pot with a lid and set over medium heat. When hot, add the diced sausage and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the pan drippings and return pot to medium heat. Add the onion and leeks, and stir and cook 2 minutes. Add the turnips and carrots and stir and cook 4 minutes or more until just slightly tender. Add stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Lower heat and cook, covered, at a simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add potatoes and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 8 minutes or more.
3. Stir in the sausage and beans. Season with salt and two good pinches of cayenne pepper. If soup is too thick, add up to 1 cup extra stock. Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.)
4. To serve, ladle soup into 4 soup bowls. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and parsley. Serves 4 to 5.
Note: Wellshire Farms smoked kielbasa available at Whole Foods works well in this recipe. Be certain you use a good quality smoked cooked sausage. In the original recipe a French pork sausage called Morteau was suggested.