Doesn't velouté sound classy? (Doesn't everything sound classier in French?) When you are cooking with something as mundane as brussel sprouts, it's a good idea to make an effort in the name of your dish, as well as its presentation. Their strong cabbage flavor turns off a lot of people, including my Critic. But I had a bag of them in the bottom of my vegetable bin, and after reading about good things to do with sprouts in on the Edible Tulip site decided to try to use them up.
My challenge in this case was to find a way to cook the sprouts in such a way that my dear partner would actually help me eat some of them. That is no easy feat 364 days of the year: he insists on serving them on Christmas so that he can ceremoniously eat one or two, but otherwise hates them.
And so I plumped for soup. Already, it would mean that the little dears didn't look like themselves. I decided the turkey broth I made at Thanksgiving (and froze) would stand up well to the strong cabbage flavor. And for garnish, I fell back on my favorite accompaniments to brussel sprouts, which I hit on some years ago to make them more palatable on Christmas day: bacon, wine and toasted pine nuts.
Actually, I didn't have any bacon and needed to use up some Parma ham and smoked duck, left over from Saturday night's pierrade. But the principle is the same; smoked meats go well with cabbage flavor. (For more information about what a pierrade is, see this post.)
Velouté de choux de Bruxelles
2 cups of brussel sprouts, cleaned and quartered
2 cups of strong turkey broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup milk
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
For the garnish:
Parma ham or smoked duck or bacon, in any case fried until crispy and crumbled
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Add the sprouts to the broth and the wine and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook until the sprouts are tender, about half an hour. Use a hand blender or a food processor to liquidize the mixture. (It came out rather thick and velvety, which was the inspiration for my French name.) Add the spices and taste for salt and pepper. Then add the lemon juice and milk and bring back to a simmering heat. Leave to simmer for half an hour or so, to allow the flavors to mingle. In the meantime, prepare the fried ham, duck or bacon and the toasted pine nuts.
Serve in a small, elegant bowl or - barring that - a pretty teacup. Add the garnish just before serving so that it remains crispy, a nice contrast to the velvety texture of the soup.
Note: I used lemon juice and milk mainly because I didn't have any crème fraîche in the house. You could substitute crème fraîche or a combination of sour cream and milk for the milk and lemon juice. A slight sour edge cuts through the cabbage flavor and makes the soup a little lighter and fresher in taste.