Among the most visually stunning presentations for soup is to nestle two different mixtures--with contrasting colors and complementary flavors--into one bowl. This yin-yang approach works best with plain soups made from pureed vegetables--the combination of a pungent, fennel-leek soup with a slightly sweet butternut-squash puree suggested here tastes as wonderful as it looks. Each soup has a relatively thick consistency and enough body to hold its own in the dish.
Both soups can be prepared a day or two in advance because they reheat perfectly. However, their preparations are linked together in such a way that ingredients for each can be processed, cooked and then pureed without ever rinsing out the food processor container.
The technique for making the soups is called consecutive processing--ingredients are processed in a certain sequence. Here, the fennel-leek soup mixture is made first, because any stray bits of vegetables left in the processor, either during the initial slicing or following the puree, are simply absorbed by the darker colored squash soup.
TWO SOUPS IN ONE BOWL
1 pound celery, trimmed
1 pound bulb fennel (or celery), cored, trimmed
White part of 2 medium and 1 large leeks, halved and rinsed
1/4 cup butter
2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled
2 quarts chicken stock
4 pounds (2 medium) butternut squash, halved, peeled, seeded
1 medium onion, peeled, cubed
1 1/4 cups half and half
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Hot pepper sauce
Insert medium (4mm) slicing disc in food processor. Cut celery, fennel and 2 medium leeks to fit upright in food chute and slice with gentle push. Melt butter in 4- to 6-quart soup kettle. Add contents of processor container and 1 whole clove garlic. Stir over medium heat until vegetables soften, about 15 minutes.
Slice potatoes with moderate push. Add potatoes and 1 quart stock to kettle. Cover and simmer slowly until vegetable are completely soft, about 40 minutes.
Insert medium shredding disc in processor without washing container. Cut squash into pieces to fit food chute and shred with firm push. Transfer to separate 4- to 6-quart soup kettle.
Change to metal blade and mince remaining clove garlic by adding to machine with motor running. Cut remaining large leek into chunks and add to container with onion. Finely chop mixture with 1-second pulses, then add to soup kettle. Stir remaining 1 quart stock into soup kettle. Cover and simmer until vegetables are completely softened, about 40 minutes.
With metal blade in processor, puree fennel soup mixture in 2-cup batches until smooth. Return puree to soup kettle and stir in 3/4 cup half and half, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. Set soup aside until serving time.
Without washing container, puree squash soup mixture in 2-cup batches until smooth. Return puree to separate kettle and stir in remaining 1/2 cup half half, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. Set soup aside until serving time.
To serve soups, use two measuring cups to simultaneously pour 1/2 cup of each soup into soup bowls from opposite sides of each bowl. Do not mix soups together. Makes 12 servings.