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Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Moderately rustic potato and leek soup


I've been perusing my only copy of Cooks Illustrated, an issue from 1998. Why am I not subscribing to this magazine? I think maybe it's the slightly bossy editorial tone: WE know the BEST way. Still, it's brimming with useful information and generous with the details of their rigorous kitchen testing. And damn them, their recipes are really good.

I noticed a "rustic" potato and leek soup recipe and decided to try it out. Unfortunately (a word often used in this blog), I neglected to read the story or even the recipe before setting out to the Coop. As it turns out, theirs is a very leek-heavy soup -- as in four pounds of leeks, 11 cups chopped. I bought one large leek which yielded three chopped cups. So my soup had a more traditional leek/potato ratio.

I was still able to pick up a few ideas from the recipe. I heated about three tablespoons of butter until it foamed and then cooked the chopped leek over a low flame, covered, for about 20 minutes. This brought out the flavor of the leek. Then I added about four cups of chopped potatoes, three bay leaves, and enough chicken stock to cover and simmered until the potatoes were soft enough to mush. After removing the bay leaves I mashed the soup with just a hand masher and added more chicken stock to thin, a bit of salt and pepper, and about 1/4 cup cream. I garnished with chives.

The soup was still chunky enough to be on the rustic side (CI's soup leaves the potatoes in chunks and thickens the soup with a little flour) and the leek definitely made itself known. Even Jasper liked the soup, all appearances to the contrary. Do you ever wake from a nap feeling cranky instead of restored? That's what he did this evening. Rare episodes this this remind me of what a generally pleasant kid Jasper usually is.

I wish I could tell you that we'd spent President's Day weekend in Paris and that's why I didn't post on Monday. But alas, we were stricken by the ick. A stomach bug hit Jasper first on Saturday, then Lane and me on Monday. I had Annie's mac and cheese from a box for dinner -- probably for the first time in my life. It wasn't bad. Today I have the leftovers for lunch along with some chopped and wilted arugula mixed into it. That was fun, but I'm glad we're all feeling back to normal again. Well, mostly normal.

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