Rutabaga Soup with Herb-Crusted Scallops

This is a perfect cold winter night\’s soup! I have made it twice; last night I smashed the vegetables, which I preferred to the other time when I puree the soup.
Smashed Version

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 3/4 pounds rutabagas, peeled, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 cup chopped onion
1 large celery stalk, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, mined
1 6-ounce Yukon Gold potato, peeled chopped
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock

6 large sea scallops
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon mined fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt butter in large pot over medium-low heat. Add rutabagas, onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add potato, thyme sprigs and bay leaf to pot. Cover and cook another 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add stock and bring to simmer. Cover partially and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring soup to simmer before serving.)

Cut each scallop horizontally in half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine 1 tablespoon minced thyme, tarragon and parsley in bowl with oil. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add scallops and sauté until just opaque in center, about 1 minute per side.

 Ladle rutabaga soup into warmed soup bowls. Place 2 scallops atop soup and a sprig of parsley. Serve.

~Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit, December 1999 (which was based on a recipe from Harvest restaurant, Atlanta).
Puree Version

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