Entertaining made easy for every season

The book: “Camille Styles Entertaining” by Camille Styles; 312 pages, $29.99. Published by William Morrow, 2014.

What you get: This guide covers recipes, table settings, floral arrangements, decorations, menu planning. I was interested in the chapter called “A Cozy Game Night.” Styles found inspiration for this casual party in “the exotic detailing on a vintage game table” and created a menu featuring Moroccan flavors. If you’re not interested in cards or board games, opt for “Casablanca” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

In her own words: “Keep the focus on just a handful of details that pack a major punch and leave a lasting impression in guests’ minds.” — Camille Styles

What we made:

CARROT SOUP WITH CUMIN AND GINGER

Makes 8 mini (8-ounce) servings

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons grated ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon honey

½ pound carrots, chopped

3 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup half-and-half

Plain yogurt, whisked to loosen

Chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 4 minutes, until barely translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the cumin, honey and carrots and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the carrots start to soften. Add the broth and salt and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Partially cover and cook until the carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree (be careful blending hot ingredients!). Return to the pot and taste to see if more salt is needed. Stir in the half-and-half.

Serve the soup in demitasse cups or small bowls and garnish with a drizzle of yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley.

Our assessment: Warming as well as vibrant in color and flavors, this soup is perfect for winter. Rich in beta-carotene, carrots are great for skin damaged from the winter cold. Plus, ginger and cumin help ward off colds and the flu, and relieve respiratory problems.

Wait until you’re ready to serve the soup before stirring in the half-and-half. Then, it will take you only seconds to garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprig of parsley.

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