Saturday, March 19, 2011
Roasted Potato and Leek Soup
I've been m.i.a for a few days, but I have good reasons. I'm trying to finish writing my doctoral thesis and I'm spending every spare moment with my laptop. Okay, not every spare moment, but it feels like it. I think I'll be getting my life back in the next 30 days and I'm looking forward to planting my vegetable garden and working on the design of this blog.
In spite of the fact that I haven't been writing as frequently, I have been cooking! I've been taking my own advice and making a menu plan every week. For the most part we stick to it and I really think that planning our meals has helped our grocery budget. We even cook large batches of steel cut oatmeal and pack it for breakfast in the office. If I could just get myself back into the gym I'd be saving money and losing weight at the same time!
I woke up at 7:00 this morning prepared to another marathon writing and editing session, but I just didn't feel like it. I decided to take a break and work on our menu plan for next week. I like to look through my cookbooks and bookmarked recipes for inspirations and today I pulled out Ina Garten's Back to Basics. I knew I had a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes in the pantry, so I decided to try her Roasted Potato and Leek Soup. I didn't have any leeks, so I put them on my shopping list and headed to the farmer's market.
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I haven't cooked much with leeks, but I do enjoy them. They remind me of oversized green onions, but they aren't as strong in flavor as a typical onion. I picked up three big leeks for less than $4 at my farmer's market. I had everything else I needed for this recipe on hand.
If you've never cooked with leeks, no worries. They typically are filled with sand and dirt particles, so you just need to make sure you clean them thoroughly. The easiest way to clean them is to cut them up and soak them in cold water. The dirt just falls to the bottom of your bowl. It's like magic.
First you start with a whole leek.
This recipe just uses the white and light green parts, so you just chop off the root end and the leafy dark green tops. I threw those parts away.
Then I sliced the leek lengthwise...
Then I sliced the leeks into little half moon shapes, separated them, and put them in a big bowl of cold water...
I let the leeks soak while I prepared the potatoes. They probably only soaked for 10-15 minutes. I swished them around to make sure they looked clean, then I used my hands to skim them out of the water. You don't want to dump the dirt from the bottom of the bowl on your clean leeks.
Next, I spread the potatoes and leeks in a roasting pan and coated them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I roasted them for about 30 minutes, then removed the pan from the oven and stirred in some arugula. Arugula is another "new" ingredient in this house. It's a type of green lettuce and it has a slight peppery flavor. You can find it with all of the bagged salads in the grocery store. I'm going to see if I can grow my own this year.
Next, you return the pan to the oven for about 5 more minutes. The arugula will wilt and everything will smell very good.
Next, you move the pan to the stove. You'll need to use two burners for this part. You'll mix in some white wine and chicken stock over medium heat. Scrape the bottom so all of the carmelized bits end up in your soup.
Finally you'll puree the soup (in batches) in your food processor or blender. You'll need to return the puree to a pot and mix in enough chicken stock to make it a thick soup consistency. You'll also stir in some heavy cream.
The original recipe called for more cream, but I didn't feel it was necessary.
This soup reminds me of a baked potato or cream of potato soup, but the wine, leeks, and arugula add a little extra flavor. I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch. This soup is creamy and it's so much easier to roast the potatoes than to boil them. I'd order this in a restaurant.
Try topping this soup with bacon, Parmesan cheese, or both. I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers in my lunch. It's a great cold weather dinner, but I'd eat it any time of year.
Don't be intimidated by all of the steps. I had this soup ready to serve in one hour and most of the time was hands off. It did create a lot of dishes, but it was worth it! Plus, you can make this soup in advance and just reheat it before serving. Enjoy!
Roasted Potato and Leek Soup
makes 8 servings
from Back to Basics by Ina Garten, modified by Keeley
2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 pieces
4 cups of sliced, clean leeks, white and light green parts only (about 4 leeks)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups lightly packed arugula
1/2 cup dry white wine
5-6 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large roasting pan, combine potatoes, leeks, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Stir occasionally during roasting.
Add arugula to the pan and return to oven for 3-5 minutes, or until arugula is wilted.
Place pan over 2 eyes of the stove. Over medium heat, mix in white wine and 1 cup of chicken stock. Scrape bottom of pan to mix in any browned bits.
In batches, add potato and leek mixture to a food processor or blender. Mix with enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Pour each batch into a large pot or Dutch oven.
Once all of the soup is pureed, add mix in enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Cook over medium heat until heated through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in heavy cream.
Serve hot, topped with Parmesan or bacon, if desired.