Rutabaga and Leek Chowder with Smoked Paprika Butter

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Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen by Deborah Madison

Makes about 3 quarts
3 pounds rutabagas (about 6 medium-to-large rutabagas)
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 medium or 2 large leeks, washed well and chopped (white and pale green parts only)
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
10 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock or water for a vegetarian version)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika

Peel the rutabagas, making sure to cut off all of the thick outer skin. Quarter length-wise and slice crosswise about 3/8-inch thick. In a large soup pot, melt butter with thyme and bay leaf over medium heat until just starting to brown. Add leeks, cook for 3-4 minutes, then add rutabaga slices and potato chunks. Stir in about 2 teaspoons salt, partially cover pot and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Purée soup according to desired texture (purée half the vegetables with some liquid for a chunkier finished texture, or purée the whole pot for a smooth, creamy consistency). Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Stir the smoked paprika into the melted butter and top each bowl with a drizzle of the smoky butter. Or top with croutons: chop day-old crusty bread into 1 cup of a bite-size chunks. Melt butter in a skillet and cook bread chunks over low heat until crisp and golden, then toss with the smoked paprika butter.

Deborah Madison is a writer, cook and food activist with Slow Food. She is the author of the cookbook Vegetable Literacy, where this recipe is from. This originally appeared in our Winter 2010 issue.

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