The former kingdom of Savoy borders the Alps and includes Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Appropriately, this hearty soup is creamy white and full of root vegetables, bolstered with plenty of cheese. The local Tomme de Savoie is an aged, slightly piquant cow’s-milk cheese, good for cooking as well as for enjoying with bread. Gruyère can take its place here. Serve the soup as a vegetarian main course, in generous bowls and accompanied by country bread.

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Ingredients

  • 3 turnips (about 12 ounces/330 g total)
  • 1 small celery root (about 12 ounces/330 g)
  • 2 large potatoes (about 1 pound/450 g total), peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons/30 g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 or 5 leeks (about pounds/675 g total), white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups/500 ml. water
  • cups/625 ml. milk
  • 12 to 16 fried croûtes, made with 1 slim baguette and fried in 4 tablespoons/60 g butter
  • 5 ounces/140 g tomme de savoie or gruyère cheese, rind discarded and thinly sliced

Method

Peel the turnips, quarter them, and then slice ½ inch/1.25 cm. thick. Peel the celery root, cut into 8 wedges, and then slice the wedges crosswise ½ inch/1.25 cm. thick. Peel the potatoes, cut them into small chunks ½ inch/1.25 cm. thick, and put in a bowl of cold water to cover.

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the turnips, celery root, and leeks, season with salt and pepper, and press a piece of aluminum foil down on the vegetables. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to very low, and sweat the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, stir them into the vegetables, and add the water. Cover the pot again and simmer until the vegetables start to get tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Bring the milk almost to a boil in a small saucepan, add it to the soup, and taste for seasoning. Cover and continue simmering gently until the vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. If the milk is boiled hard, it will curdle. Taste again and adjust the seasoning. The soup may be kept for a day or two in the refrigerator, where the flavor will mellow nicely.

To finish, make the croûtes. Reheat the soup if necessary. Put the croûtes in warmed soup bowls and top with the cheese slices. Pour over the soup and serve at once so the cheese just melts and the croûtes remain crisp.

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