Easy sage-flavored vegetable soup

(Beatrice Peltre for The Boston Globe)
February 18, 2009

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Serves 4

Even the most hesitant cook will be happy making this vegetable soup. It requires little preparation and cooking time, and turns uncomplicated, nourishing fare into dinner. To start, saute leeks in olive oil and butter with crushed coriander seeds, then add sweet potato, parsnip, turnips, and yellow potatoes to give the pot body and flavor. The soup simmers, almost unattended, with sage and bay leaf. At the table, add a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkle with parsley. This is the kind of hearty fare you can only eat this time of year.

1tablespoon olive oil
1tablespoon butter
1teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
3leeks (white part only), sliced
1sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2small purple turnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes peeled and diced
5cups cold water
1bay leaf
7fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2cup creme fraiche or whole milk yogurt (for serving)
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the butter. When the butter melts, cook the coriander seeds, stirring often, for 1 minute or until fragrant.

2. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Add the sweet potato, parsnip, turnips, and potatoes. Continue to cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes.

3. Add the water, bay leaf, sage, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

4. Discard the bay leaf. In a blender, puree the soup until smooth. If the soup seems thick, stir in more water. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Ladle into bowls, add creme fraiche or yogurt and parsley.

Beatrice Peltre