What started out as a practical solution has become a feast, its own menu of legendary proportion.
Laurie and I met in October of 1991, when I joined the choir at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church in New Orleans. She is a sensational singer, a gloriously pure soprano with a killer range, exquisite subtlety and breathtaking sensitivity. I adore listening to Laurie sing – and I get to call her my dear friend.
Our church has two Christmas Eve services, one at 5:30pm that tends to draw families and one at 11pm, quieter and more contemplative, pulling in couples young and old, divorcees and widowers, and especially those for whom the late, candlelight service is more meaningful. It makes for a long night of singing, but it is one of our favorites musically and gastronomically.
Laurie is a sensational cook – that first year, she whipped up a marvelous risotto for four of us. Over the years, we’ve had this and that, but this year was our 12th in a row with principally the same menu. Straying from it now seems like sacrilege.
1 Cup Water
6 large Carrots, peeled and diced
2 or 3 medium Zucchini, peeled and diced
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tablespoons Flour
¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
3 chicken bouillon cubes or packets
In a medium saucepan, add water and place over high heat. Add carrots, cover saucepan and cook for 10 minutes. Add zucchini, cook for 5 minutes more. Remove saucepan from heat and drain liquid. (Save the liquid to use as a base for stock later, if you’d like.)
Puree vegetables in the same pot with an immersion blender (or hand mixer or whatever works for you. I’ve never owned a food processor.) Add the heavy cream and place over medium heat, uncovered. While stirring constantly with a wire whisk, sprinkle in the flour, black pepper and cinnamon.
Add the bouillon (I swear by the Better Than Bouillon brand – and they make a super Vegetable bouillon in case you need to make this for vegetarians) and continue to stir until it dissolves. Heat for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently so soup does not stick or burn. Serve in shallow flat bowls, garnished with a parsley sprig. 4 servings.
Oh, and don’t forget – Prosecco, flowing throughout the courses. And, to get us into the proper mood for the second service, selections from the South Park Christmas CD – we can do most of the parts to the Dreidl Song, with counterpoint.
Then, we waddle our behinds back to church for the late Christmas service.
I have family around the world. I have family here in New Orleans.
And now we have our family traditions. Hope you had a great Christmas – ours was one of the best in years.