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Palestine Soup


Delicate, complex, and really quite spectacular as a launch to a great luncheon or dinner. It's a pale green silken soup, delicately flavored, crested with dollops of pinked whipped cream and sprinkled with crushed toasted hazelnuts. This confection goes best in the classic "cream soup cup," double-handled or no-handled and with saucer, a paperthin slice of lemon hung over its lip. Serve hot to 8 as a first course.

Garnish: 8 thin lemon slices; 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper; 3 Tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, crushed and pounded.

Right from the start you have to know that these sunchokes turned dark the minute they're peeled, so you must be quick in peeling, then plunge them into the cold vinegar water til you're ready to use them. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in the onions and celery, then quickly slice the peeled chokes into the pot and stir to coat. Cover the pot and sweat the vegetables over low heat for 10 minutes, being sure not to brown them. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the chokes are tender. Puree the soup, solids first, then return to the pot. Pour in the milk, salt and pepper to taste, and return to a simmer. You can hold at this point until you are close to serving the soup. Prepare the garnishes.

When you're ready to serve, have the soup at a simmer. Whisk the heavy cream with the egg yolks, then stir into the soup, heating through but being careful not to boil. Ladle the soup into the bowls, place dollops of the spiced whipped cream on top of each and sprinkle with the toasted hazelnut bits. Hang a sliced lemon round on the lip of each bowl and serve immediately.