Food & Wine (November 2016)
Hi, Bittens. Forgive us if we're a little sluggish this morning. Yesterday, we hosted our annual Fakesgiving dinner! Twenty-three of our friends came over for a huge meal to help us test-drive some dishes for Thanksgiving.
Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people in our small apartment is always a bit tricky. We started prepping five days in advance, cooking whatever we could ahead of time. Zach's sister Cassidy arrived bright and early yesterday morning to act as sous chef for the day, just as she has ever since we started Fakesgiving. (Seriously, we couldn't do it without her.)
Folks started arriving around 3. We shooed them into the backyard (thank goodness for a sunny day) and busied them with snacks and punch while we finished cooking the rest of the food.
Then, we stalled.
And kept stalling.
In other words, we served soup.
In all seriousness, soup can be your best weapon for handling a major holiday meal with lots of guests. You can make it days in advance, heat it up on the stove an hour before anyone gets there, and then serve it while you deal with last-minute meal prep. We portioned it out into small Mason jars and handed them out while everyone hung out in the back yard.
Bottom line: Soup is a marvelous trick to have up your sleeve. (Well, not literally. That would be messy.)
So how's this soup?
We thought it was good. The celery root flavor got a little lost; the final result was more like a potato soup. It was tasty and creamy and rich -- but it didn't have anything to really distinguish it. It's helped immensely by the gremolata, which adds a fresh note and a little bit of crunch, along with a nice finish of olive oil.
Somewhat to our surprise, though, a lot of our friends really loved this bisque. So maybe it was just the right thing to kick off our dinner. Maybe it didn't need to be anything but what it was -- a warm and lovely start to a good gathering of great people.
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Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
|2 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (8 cups)
One 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 ounce), plus 1/4 cup freshly grated cheese
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the leek and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the celery root, Parmesan chunk, stock and 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is tender, 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then finely chop and transfer to a bowl. Add the oil, parsley and grated cheese and mix well.
In a blender, puree the soup in 2 batches until very smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan and stir in the heavy cream; season with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary. Serve topped with the walnut gremolata.
MAKE AHEAD: The soup can be refrigerated for 2 days.