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Casual Winter Gathering to Warm the Soul

A chilly forecast calls for a soul-warming remedy

Written and produced by Krissa Rossbund
  • Peter Krumhardt

    Menu and recipes start here.

    Come as you are, eat what you want. This was Cassie Galloway’s attitude when she planned an informal get-together with soul-soothing soups on the menu. The setting was polished, but a casual weekend tone encouraged dining at a leisurely pace.

    No spoon necessary for the starter, vegetable consommé flavored with lemongrass, sipped from geometric-patterned bone china cups. Earthy roasted beet soup and classic bouillabaisse, made hearty with halibut, clams, and mussels, ensured guests were sated with thermal flavors. Tuscan bread salad with artichokes, white beans, and kale complements the soups. A many-layered opera cake and cappuccino with white chocolate liqueur capped the low-key meal.

    Prepping for her soup party, homeowner Cassie Galloway carries the bouillabaisse to the buffet.

    Photography: Peter Krumhardt 

    Interior designer: Julie Coy, Julie Coy Designs, 515/778-3800. 

    Wallpaper (“Savannah”/custom color through Julie Coy Designs): Koessel Studios, koesselstudios.com
    Dining table (“Centre Dining Table” #890-20); host chairs (“Zelda” #Z-833-27); side chairs (“Dawson” #Z-940-26): Chaddock, chaddockhome.com
    Host-chair fabric (“Gene Stripe 04”): Vervain, vervain.com
    Side-chair fabric (“Lavello” #1811-21, colorway discontinued, for similar #1811-33, by Sahco): Donghia, donghia.com
    Chandeliers (“Fluted Pendant”  #9.91252); sconces (“French Sconce” #9.90121-HW): Global Views, globalviews.com

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    Pretty Casual

    Inspired by the dining room’s palette of black, gray, and soft orange, sturdy ceramic stoneware contributes a casual presence that dainty porcelain couldn’t achieve. Glassware in green and smoky gray nods to retro colors. The ensemble is grounded by faux-shagreen placemats that texturally contrast with mother-of-pearl-handled flatware.

    Ivory candles team with silver candlesticks that show off a no-apologies tarnished finish. Votives and sprigs of greenery create a lovely, easy-to-execute centerpiece. 

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    Earthy Table

    Blue Pheasant’s “Henry” faux-shagreen placemats ground Arte Italica’s “Finezza” lace-bordered ceramic chargers and “Giulietta” floral-sketched plates, along with Wedgwood’s “Jasper Conran” gold-banded bowls. “Aerin” floral napkins are from World Market.

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    Colorful Glass

    “Lucia Gray” and “Aaron Olive” glassware by Blue Pheasant adds retro color to the setting. 

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    Pattern Perfect

    The handsome patterns of Wedgwood’s “Arris” china provide an unexpected twist for a sip of vegetable consommé. 

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    Details, Details

    Blue Pheasant’s “Sophene” flatware shimmers with mother-of-pearl handles.

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    Pinch Me!

    Crafted of horn, Blue Pheasant’s basket-weave “Porter” salt and pepper shakers and “Lia” pinch bowls season in style. 

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    Menu & Shopping List

    A blustery winter shouldn’t freeze out your entertaining style. Homeowner Cassie Galloway takes advantage of her hospitable dining room to host an afternoon soup party to ward off winter’s chill. She starts by welcoming guests with clear-as-a-bell vegetable consommé, and following it up with a rustic-but-elegant beet soup, hearty bouillabaisse, and panzanella salad. A lady-like opera cake finishes the meal, capped by a white chocolate liqueur-laced cappuccino. Recipes are by chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace.

    Menu

    Vegetable Consommé with Lemongrass

    Roasted Beet Soup

    Bouillabaisse

    Artichoke and White Bean Panzanella Salad

    Assorted breads

    Opera Cake

    Cappuccino with White Chocolate Liqueur

    Shopping List

    We’ve organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

    Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

    (Unless specified, when we call for “butter,” we mean the unsalted variety. When we call for “eggs,” we are suggesting large eggs.)

    • Reserve or prepare: 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, divided
    • Olive oil (about 1-2/3 cups total)
    • Red wine vinegar (need 1 tablespoon)
    • Butter (about 2-2/3 sticks total)
    • Eggs (need 9 total)
    • Whole milk (need 1/3 cup)
    • All-purpose flour (need 1/3 cup)
    • Granulated sugar (need 3/4 cup total)
    • Confectioners’ sugar (need 2/3 cup)
    • Vanilla (need 2 teaspoons total)
    • Cream of tartar (need 1/2 teaspoon)
    • 4 bay leaves
    • Salt (to taste)
    • Kosher salt (1 teaspoon)
    • Ground black pepper

    Specialty Grocery Store

    • Champagne vinegar
    • 2 ounces Mexican chocolate
    • Espresso coffee, ground or whole bean (enough to prepare 16 ounces brewed espresso)

    Produce

    • 1 bunch carrots
    • 1 bunch celery
    • 2 yellow onions
    • 1 head garlic
    • 1 small knob fresh ginger root (need 1 teaspoon grated)
    • 2 small and 1 large leek
    • 7 large beets (about 4 pounds)
    • 1 orange
    • 2 lemons
    • 1 (5-ounce) bag baby arugula
    • 1 (5-ounce) bag baby kale
    • 1 bunch Italian parsley
    • 1 package lemongrass
    • 1 bunch fresh thyme

    Grocery

    • 3 (32-ounce) boxes vegetable broth
    • 1 (32-ounce) box seafood stock
    • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
    • 1 (8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers
    • 1 (15- to 15.5-ounce) can navy beans or cannellini beans
    • 1 (13.75- to 14.75-ounce) can artichoke hearts
    • 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm

    Baking aisle

    • Ground white pepper
    • Fennel seed
    • Saffron
    • Italian-style breadcrumbs
    • 1 (6-ounce) package sliced almonds
    • 1 (4-ounce) bar semisweet baking chocolate

    Fish counter

    • 1 pound halibut
    • 1 pound clams
    • 1 pound mussels

    Dairy/cheese

    • 1 (half-pint) container whipping cream
    • 1 quart 2% milk
    • 1 (8-ounce) container crème fraîche
    • 1 small wedge Romano cheese or container grated Romano

    Bakery

    • 1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta

    Alcohol

    • 1 (750-milliliter) inexpensive white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc) for cooking
    • 1 (750-milliliter) Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Vegetable Consommé with Lemongrass

    Welcome guests on a chilly afternoon with a cup of this warming vegetable broth. The flavorful soup takes the place of a starchy hors d’oeuvre and sets the stage for the hearty soup buffet.

    Prep: 20 minutes

    Cook: 30 minutes to 45 minutes

    • 10 cups vegetable broth [2-1/2 (32-ounce) boxes]
    • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 2 stalks celery, sliced
    • 1 small leek, trimmed, cleaned, and sliced (1/3 cup)
    • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, sliced
    • 8 to 10 Italian parsley stems
    • Salt and ground white pepper
    • Fresh lemongrass, thinly sliced
    • Italian parsley leaves

    In 4- to 5-quart pot combine broth, carrots, celery, leek, the 1 stalk sliced lemongrass, and parsley stems. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 30 to 45 minutes.

    Pour mixture through strainer lined with double layer of 100% cotton cheesecloth; discard vegetables. Season soup to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve in bowls or cups garnished with additional sliced lemongrass and fresh parsley leaves. Makes 8 servings.

    Storage: Store any remaining consommé in airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days.

    Recipe by Chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Roasted Beet Soup

    This beet soup has humble, rustic origins but becomes elegant by adding an additional level of flavor through roasting the beets. 

    Prep: 20 minutes

    Roast: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Cook: 30 minutes

    Cool: 10 minutes

    • 7 large beets (about 4 pounds)
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
    • 1 large leek, trimmed, halved, rinsed, and sliced
    • 1/4 cup chopped celery
    • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 cups water
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh thyme
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • 1/2 cup crème fraîche, (optional)
    • Parsley leaves (optional)

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut tops and bottoms off beets; place in roasting pan. Rub 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt all over beets. Cover pan with foil. Roast 1-1/2 hours or until fork-tender. Cool. Peel beets; cut 6 beets into quarters. Set aside.

    In 4- to 5-quart pot heat remaining oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, leek, celery, and carrot. Season vegetables with additional salt and pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Add quartered beets and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

    Purée vegetable mixture in blender, one-third at a time, holding towel at top of blender when motor is running. Return all to pot. Add additional water, if desired, for thinner consistency. Add bay leaves, thyme, and ginger to soup and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes more. Remove bay leaves. Season with additional salt and pepper.

    Thinly slice remaining beet. Serve soup garnished with beet slices, crème fraîche, and/or parsley leaves, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

    Storage: Store any remaining soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

    Recipe by Chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Bouillabaisse

    This classic French fish stew has its origins in the seaport of Marseille. The use of fennel, thyme, bay, saffron, and citrus in the broth are traditional elements to the flavorful broth. The rouille, a garlic-tomato-breadcrumb based sauce, is stirred in for additional flavor. Julia Child liked to spread the rouille on crusty bread and serve it alongside for soaking up the broth. Here, Mottahedeh’s gold-trimmed “Lion” tureen elegantly serves the robust dish. 

    Prep: 45 minutes

    Cook: 45 minutes

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped leek
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
    • 3 cups seafood stock
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 orange, zested (1 tablespoon)
    • 1 lemon, zested (2 teaspoons)
    • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
    • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 pinches saffron
    • 1 pound halibut, skinned and cut in 2-inch cubes
    • 1 pound clams, cleaned and bearded
    • 1 pound mussels, cleaned and bearded
    • 1 cup Garlicky Rouille (optional) (recipe follows)
    • 2 to 3 sprigs Italian parsley (stems and leaves)

    In an 8-quart Dutch oven heat olive oil and butter over high heat until butter melts. Add onion, celery, leek, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are glossy and aromatic.

    Reduce heat to low. Add wine to vegetables. Simmer 5 minutes or until wine is reduced by half. In bowl, use your hands to crush undrained San Marzano tomatoes. Reserve 2 tablespoons of tomatoes for Garlicky Rouille. Add remaining tomatoes, seafood stock, water, red wine vinegar, orange and lemon zest, fennel seed, thyme, bay leaves, and saffron to pot. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes.*

    Add fish, clams, and mussels to Dutch oven. Simmer 8 minutes or until clams open. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup with Garlicky Rouille, if desired, and chopped parsley for garnish. Makes 8 servings.

    Garlicky Rouille: In small skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add three cloves sliced garlic; cook until lightly brown. Remove from heat. In blender or food processor combine garlic and oil, 1 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs, and reserved 2 tablespoons crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Cover and blend or process to a smooth paste. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and chill until serving time.

    *Tip: You can prepare the soup to this point, and chill up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, return to a simmer and continue with step 3.

    Recipe by Chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Artichoke and White Bean Panzanella Salad

    Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad. This winter version includes white beans and artichoke hearts. Try to find baby kale—it has a softer texture and sweeter flavor than the fully developed leaf.

    Prep: 20 minutes

    Bake: 10 minutes at 350° F

    • 3 cups (1- to 2-inch) cubes ciabatta
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 (15- to 15.5-ounce) can navy beans or cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
    • 1 (13.75- to 14.75-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
    • 3 canned or bottled hearts of palm, drained and sliced
    • 2 cups baby arugula
    • 2 cups baby kale
    • 1 recipe Romano Cheese Dressing (recipe follows)

    Preheat oven to 350°F. In shallow baking pan drizzle ciabatta with olive oil; toss to coat. Bake 10 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.

    In serving bowl combine beans, artichokes, hearts of palm, arugula, kale, and ciabatta croutons. Add dressing; toss to combine. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

    Romano Cheese Dressing: In blender combine 6 tablespoons olive oil, 6 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover and blend until smooth.

    Recipe by Chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Assorted Breads

    Bread and soup are the most basic of culinary partnerships. Head to your favorite bakery and choose a couple of options to help soak up these delicious soups or slather with a lovely, creamery-fresh butter.

    From front to back:

    Whole wheat round loaf (with flour wheat design)

    Oatmeal walnut boule

    Sourdough round loaf

    Seven-grain Viennese loaf

    Honey oatmeal boule

    You can purchase this handsome walnut cutting board here

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Opera Cake

    Elegant and lady-like, opera cake is a relative newcomer to the world of French patisserie. It gained popularity in the late 1950s, amidst a refined world of white gloves, Dior gowns, and veiled hats. Here, a piece of opera cake rests on Iittala’s “Kastehelmi” glass plate, patterned with rows of dewdrop-like forms. 

    Prep: 1 hour

    Bake: 8 minutes to 10 minutes at 425° F

    Cool: 45 minutes

    Stand: 30 minutes

    Chill: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Sponge Cake:

    • 6 egg yolks
    • 6 egg whites
    • 1-1/4 cups sliced almonds
    • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

    Coffee Syrup:

    • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

    Coffee Buttercream:

    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup butter, softened and cubed

    Mexican Chocolate Ganache:

    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
    • 2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped

    For Sponge Cake, allow egg yolks and egg whites to stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease three 8x8x2-inch square baking pans.* Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper or waxed paper.

    In food processor combine almonds and powdered sugar. Cover; process with on/off pulses until nuts are finely ground; set aside.

    Preheat oven to 425°F. In medium mixing bowl beat 6 egg yolks with electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon color. Add milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat on low speed until combined. Fold in almond mixture. Fold in flour; set aside.

    Thoroughly wash beaters. In large mixing bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl).

    Gradually add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold half the beaten egg whites into egg yolk mixture; fold egg yolk mixture into remaining beaten egg whites. Divide batter between prepared pans, spreading evenly.

    Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until top is golden. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans; remove paper. Cool completely on wire racks (cake layers will be thin).

    For Coffee Syrup, in small saucepan combine 1/4 cup coffee and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes; set aside.

    For Coffee Buttercream, in heavy, small saucepan combine 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water; bring to boil. Remove from heat. Gradually stir about half of hot mixture into the 3 egg yolks. Return egg yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup coffee and 1 teaspoon vanilla; cool. In large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed until fluffy. Add cooled egg yolk mixture, beating until combined. If necessary, chill until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

    For Mexican Chocolate Ganache, in small saucepan bring cream just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add semisweet and Mexican chocolates (do not stir). Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth (Mexican chocolate has a somewhat grainy appearance). Cool 15 minutes.

    Building the Opera Cake: To assemble, place one Sponge Cake layer on serving plate. Brush with one-third of Coffee Syrup. Spread with half of Coffee Buttercream. Top with another cake layer; brush with one-third of syrup. Spread with half of Chocolate Ganache. Top with remaining cake layer; brush with remaining syrup. Spread with remaining buttercream. Chill at least 1 hour or until layers are firm. Casually spread top with remaining ganache. Using long sharp knife, trim sides of layers to make even. Makes 8 servings.

    *Tip: If you don't have three 8x8x2-inch baking pans, bake one or two pans at a time, keeping the remaining batter chilled until ready to bake. Cool, grease, line, and flour pans between each batch. Wrap cooled layers and store at room temperature up to 24 hours or label and freeze in freezer container up to 3 months. Chill assembled cake up to 24 hours.

    Recipe by Chef Mary Payne Moran

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  • Peter Krumhardt

    Cappuccino with White Chocolate Liqueur

    What better way to end a winter afternoon than with a liqueur-laced cappuccino? Bormioli Rocco’s “Oslo” cups offer a clear look at the dual-colored coffee cocktail. 

    Start to Finish: 10 minutes

    • 2 shots (1/4 cup) brewed espresso
    • 1/2 cup 2% milk, steamed in small pitcher
    • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) white chocolate liqueur (such as Godiva)

    Add espresso to coffee cup. Pour steamed milk into espresso, holding back foam in pitcher with a spoon. Stir coffee liqueur into espresso. Top cappuccino with foam and serve. Makes 1 serving.

    Tip:  To serve from a pitcher, pour 2 cups espresso into a large pitcher. Add 4 cups steamed milk and 1 cup liqueur. Pour into coffee cups and top with foam. Makes enough for 8 servings. 

    Recipe by Chef Mary Payne Moran

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