Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Parsnip soup with smoked scallops and radishes

Museum cafés are the last place I’d expect to find great food. I always thought of these institutions as overpriced mediocre girly food: bland salads, rubbery chicken breasts, overcooked salmon, and anything with pesto. Girls, before you get offended, let me tell you that I hold mediocre guy food, like under-seasoned, overcooked burgers, in contempt just as much. But stereotypes can be deceiving and I have recently found out that one of the best sit down lunches in Boston is, to my great shock, in Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. No, I didn’t go to the museum just for lunch. Shallow person that I am, I actually think it’s one of the most beautiful places in Boston. But until my fellow chowhounds have pointed me in the direction of the museum café, it never occurred to me to eat there.

All my stereotypes were blown away after my first meal at ISGM café. The whole meal was absolutely lovely -- no rubber chicken here -- but the dish that stood out the most was the parsnip soup with smoked scallops. Since the café menu changes quite often, you might not encounter this soup there for a while now, but recreating it at home couldn’t be easier. You can find smoked scallops in Whole Foods and in well-stocked fish markets. These smoky little nuggets go incredibly well with sweet and creamy parsnip soup. The surreptitious leftover of radishes that I had in my fridge provided a perfect garnish that gave the soup some crunch and gentle spice.

Parsnip Soup with Smoked Scallops and Radishes

Serves 4

1 recipe parsnip soup
6 oz jar of smoked scallops
6 medium radishes cut into fine julienne
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for garnish

  1. After pureeing the soup, set it over low heat to keep warm.
  2. Cut each scallop in half and add scallops to the soup for 1 minute before serving.
  3. In a small bowl, combine radishes, lemon juice, half of chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  4. Pour the soup into 4 bowls, sprinkle with remaining chives, drizzle with olive oil (about 1/2 tsp per bowl), and top with radishes.


bea at La tartine gourmande said...

Love this museum and had a meal at the Café a long long time ago! Glad to hear it is still great. I will def give a try to this soup. Sounds superb! Had not heard about smoked scallops before!

Tanna said...

Wow that looks ever so good, how do you make soup look so divine. I really adore parsnips and think them very underused. The radishe is a perfect touch!

Anonymous said...

Yep, very nice pix.
Here's something else to marvel at:
Dima. Chicago.

Helen said...

Hi Tanna and Dima,

I am really flattered that you liked my soup pictures. Photography is not my thing, but it's fun when a picture comes out well on occasion. I do agree that Nordljus is just stunning, and have you seen pictures at Tartine Gourmande? That's some unbelievable photography.


SallyBR said...

Love your site, your photos are always terrific, and this soup made my mouth water... What a great combination of flavors!

I just wanted to mention that for those who cannot find smoked scallops but happen to own a stove top smoker, they are a breeze to make: for 1 pound sea scallops, add 1/4 cup red wine to 1 T maple wood chips to the bottom of the smoker. Place scallops on grill, close box and let smoke for 14 minutes. Turn burner off and let sit 1 minute.

They turn absolutely wonderful!

Helen said...

Hi Sally,

Thank you so much for the smoked scallop recipe!


Jonathan said...

Just got some smoked scallops in and was looking for recipes that used them - this looks amazing and will be first on my list. Thanks.