Apple-Rutabaga Soup

6 to 8 servings (about 2 quarts)

Leave it to Patrick O'Connell to think of using maple syrup to sweeten this autumn dish. The syrup makes a great counterpoint to the heat of cayenne pepper. The soup can be served hot or cold, and it freezes well. Adapted from Patrick O'Connell's "Refined American Cuisine" (Bulfinch Press, 2004).

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 cup peeled, cored and coarsely chopped Granny Smith apple

1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped rutabaga

1 cup peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped butternut squash

1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped carrots

1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped sweet potato

1 quart good chicken stock or broth (may substitute vegetable stock)

2 cups heavy cream (may substitute 1 cup fat-free half-and-half for 1 of the cups of heavy cream)

1/4 cup maple syrup

Salt

Cayenne pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, apple, rutabaga, squash, carrots and sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to medium-high, so that the liquid comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender and cooked through.

Transfer in batches to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture and return it to the saucepan. Add the cream and maple syrup and the salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Return the saucepan to the stove on medium-low heat to heat the soup through.

Per serving (based on 8): 406 calories, 4 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 35 g fat, 116 mg cholesterol, 22 g saturated fat, 143 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Andy Boltax; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

St. Mary's Shrimp Stew

4 to 6 servings

Carole Greenwood serves this aromatic combination of rutabagas and other root vegetables with shrimp at Buck's Fishing & Camping. Its origins are northern France, but the shrimp and root vegetables are strictly Southern Maryland, she says. Greenwood serves the stew with the heads and tails still on the shrimp for more flavor; you can use peeled shrimp.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup rutabaga, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup white or red sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 bulb fennel, coarsely chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 or 2 leeks, white part only, cut into thin circles/slices (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup mushrooms, preferably cremini or shiitake, finely chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 sprig thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

2 teaspoons fennel seed

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 pound medium or large shrimp, shell on

1 bottle dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock, clam juice or water

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, for garnish

In a deep Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the rutabaga, sweet potato, squash, fennel and carrots and cook until slightly softened but not browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the onion, shallots, garlic and leeks and cook until translucent and a little soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add mushrooms and stir until browned, about 1 minute. Add the flour, thyme, fennel seed and curry powder. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp and continue stirring until it is just turning pink on the outside (it should not be fully cooked), about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and, using tongs, transfer shrimp to a medium bowl and set aside.

Return pot to heat. When it is hot, pour in a small amount of wine, stirring and scraping up any bits of vegetable, then gradually add the rest of the wine and chicken stock and mix thoroughly. Bring mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste and make sure the vegetables are soft and the flavors are balanced, cooking a bit longer if necessary.

Return the shrimp to the pot and cook an additional 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp, until the shrimp are cooked through and the stew is heated through. Add cream and heat through. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in large bowls, garnished with chopped parsley.

Per serving: 718 calories, 30 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 40 g fat, 282 mg cholesterol, 23 g saturated fat, 392 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Marcia Kramer; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

Rutabaga Caponata

6 to 8 servings

(Makes about 31/2 cups)

Rutabaga stands in for the eggplant usually called for in this distinctive salad/relish. Serve with grilled bread that has been brushed with olive oil, or homemade crackers.

Recipe adapted from chef Johnny Monis at Komi restaurant.

2 rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

5 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons currants

1 tablespoon golden raisins

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon grated bittersweet chocolate or cocoa powder (may use Dutch-process)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss the rutabaga with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake, turning once, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rutabaga is tender but still somewhat firm. Set aside.

In a large pan over medium heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is translucent, about 4 minutes, then add the garlic, shallot, currants and raisins, stirring to mix. Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping the pan to deglaze it and incorporate the addition. Add the roasted rutabaga, pine nuts, red pepper flakes, sugar to taste, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate or cocoa powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Per serving (based on 8): 138 calories, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 57 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Margaret Roth; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com