Potato Leek Soup – A Primal Soup Everyone Needs to Know

Potato Leek Soup

This one goes out to my friend Sheila, an amazing PE teacher. After a hugely successful field day, she was sitting in her office looking forward to a restful weekend and was trying to figure out what to do with the leftover potatoes. Why you ask are there leftover potatoes after a field day with middle school students? Well, lets just say that Sheila is highly creative. In any case, I immediately told her to make Potato Leek Soup – one of my favorites. It is easy, cheap, and can be varied a ton of ways to make just about any kind of soup you may desire.

So, join me and Sheila on a journey through the ever evolving world of Potato and Leek Soup – you will be glad you did.


 

POTATO LEEK SOUP

Serves 4

Time to Prep – 10 minutes

Time to Cook – 20 minutes

  • 2 cups of cleaned and diced leeks, white and tender green portions only, chopped
  • 2 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes
  • 4 cups of water
  • salt and pepper

Yeah, I know, you are saying “Really, that’s it? Will it taste good?”

Trust me; it will.

 

The hardest part of creating this soup is cleaning the leeks. The easiest way to do this is to slice the leek running down the middle DSCN0446and then run it under the faucet. Because leeks are from the onion family, they tend to get a little grit in between the layers. Don’t want that in our soup.

DSCN0451Place the  leeks, potatoes, water, and seasonings into a pot and let boil for 20 minutes until tender. That’s it.

 

 

 

If you desire, and I always do, you can puree the soup and sprinkle a few chopped chives on top. I also often add a dollop of sour cream, 1/2 cup cream or half and half to enrich the soup. Sheila told me that soy milk works well too.

You can also add different veggies if you want as well. My daughter discovered that pak choi was a wonderful, light addition. Many add watercress. peas, spinach, or even cauliflower or broccoli.

Another nice thing about this soup is that you can serve it cold as well (vichyssoise). I find when served cold, it needs a little more salt and the 1/2 cup of cream to add flavor and body and MUST be pureed.

Enjoy! And have fun playing with this soup. That is half the fun of cooking.

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Spicy Pork Swiss Chard Soup with an Asian Twist – multiculturalism at its best!

IMG_1876Here is my first attempt at making diet food for this Biggest Loser challenge my husband has joined. I found this recipe in the January edition of Bon Appetit. The original recipe called for Sichuan peppercorns, mustard greens and rice noodles and I didn’t have any of these items. Thus, I decided to forage in my pantry to see what alternatives I had for these critical ingredients. Fortunately, I had a beautiful bunch of swiss chard, pequin peppers, and udon noodles. I figured they were close enough and began cooking.

 I like the taste of spicy food – I also find it makes me feel full longer – but if you don’t want to use pequin peppers, feel free to alter this recipe to your tastes. Also, I personally feel that any good pasta would work for this soup, so don’t let the Asian noodle concept keep you from making this recipe. Finally, the first time I cooked this dish we left the noodles long, which made the soup difficult to eat. Simply breaking the noodles into 2-3 inch lengths made a huge difference to our dining experience.

This dish is ridiculously easy, cheap, and now one of my husband’s favorites. So far he has lost 2 pounds and I am taking credit for a lot of it, thank you. Me and my soup.  Guess that means it is a definite Do Again. Let me know what you think of it! Of course, I have only lost 1 pound so . . . oh well.

** Helpful hint for mincing the ginger and garlic at the end of the recipe. Check it out, it will make your life much easier!

Serves 4

  • 1 small bunch udon noodles, broken into pieces
  •  ½ lb. ground pork
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 3 tsp. peeled, smashed and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-2 pequin peppers, crushed, or ¾ crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds, coarsely chopped, or ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch – four stalks of swiss chard, leaves removed from stalks and chopped  (about 4 cups)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1-2 pequin peppers, crushed – if you like real spicy food like me!

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Mix the pork, garlic, ginger, black pepper, hot peppers and cumin seeds into a medium sized bowl and mix together with your hands. Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan and heat over a medium flame. Place the pork mixture into the skillet and brown the meat stirring occasionally to break it up into small pieces.

Add the chicken broth into the pot with the meat mixture and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Then place the chopped swiss chard leaves, scallions, soy sauce, fish sauce and peppers in the broth and cook over a medium heat until the chard has wilted.

Place cooked noodles in the bottom of a soup bowl and pour the soup over.

 

HELPFUL HINT!

When I need to mince ginger for recipes, I trim off the skin and slice it into thin discs – about the thickness of a quarter. Then I lay DSCN0237the disks on my cutting board and place my chef’s knife with the flat side facing down (see picture) covering the slice completely. I then slam my palm onto the top of the knife. This smashes the ginger (once again, see photo) and makes it crazy easy to mince. This technique can also be used to smash garlic as well.

Enjoy!

Creamy Tomato Soup – comfort food at its best.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Tomato Soup

When I was a kid, I loved Campbell’s Tomato Soup; it was one of my favorite comfort foods. Sometimes to save money, my mother would buy the store brand instead of Campbell’s. I would refuse to eat the stuff. Or, sometimes she would use water instead of milk. Blasphemy, I say. You need the milk; otherwise it isn’t creamy!

Now, as a grown-up, in age at least, I don’t like to eat processed foods. But I miss my tomato soup fix. So, in desperation, I decided to try my hand to recreating the stuff. Took me some tinkering and the help of my husband’s taste buds, but we finally got it right.

Now, just know that the sugar and pureeing of the soup is key to the recipe. If you want to leave these out, you can, but it won’t taste similar to Campbell’s. Yes, even with these steps, this soup is a little more acidic than the processed product, but I think that is a good thing. I hope you like it!

  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (not tomato puree or sauce!)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

    Ingredients

    Ingredients

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • nutmeg

Place the olive oil into a medium saucepan. Toss in the diced onions and cook on low until translucent, yet not browned.

Place the crushed tomatoes in the saucepan with the wilted onions. Then pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream. Cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Using a food mill, run the tomato mixture through to make the puree smooth. You can alternatively place the contents of the can in a blender and then strain the mixture through a sieve. You decide. I like option one the best.

Add the sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Then add nutmeg. I like to use whole nutmeg and grate it directly into the pot. If you are using ground nutmeg, I suggest you use about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. I just put in enough to please my taste buds. Be careful, too much nutmeg will overpower the tomato flavor.

Alternative Version (easy) – Substitute 3 cups of tomato juice for the pureed tomatoes. Just cook the juice down to 2 cups before adding the other ingredients. This will make the juice more concentrated and less watery.

And. . .  if you want to get really crazy, placed sliced hot dogs into the soup. My mother made this for me when I was a kid. Penny Soup is the name; and if you try it, you just might find that you like it too. Personally, I think it is great. Just make sure you use good quality hot dogs.

Enjoy!

Spicy Indian Tomato Soup

Makes me want to go to India! It's vegan too!

Makes me want to go to India! It’s vegan too!

I love, love, love this soup. I love it because it is easy. I love it because it is healthy. I love it because it reminds me of a bright, summer day I spent on Sandy Point with my friend, Margot. And I love it because it has just right amount of warm spices and bright acid.

Eat this with my $17 Grilled Cheese Sandwich and you will have one heck of a meal! Might I suggest you cut the sandwich into finger-like strips? That would not only give you a cheesy-good sandwich to go with your soup,  but this makes it more dunkable too! Enjoy!

  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch of cayenne or 1 small chili, minced.
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (48 ounce) container of tomato juice
  • 1 cup water or stock
  • lime wedges

Optional: plain yogurt for garnish

In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in oil until translucent.

Add the chili and spices and sauté another minute, stirring contstantly. Add the tomato juice and water. Simmer for about 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

Serve in bowls with a lime wedge. (The acid from the lime really adds depth to the soup – don’t skip this.)

**If you decide to use low sodium tomato juice, you may need to add salt as well. Regular tomato soup is already salty enough for most tastes.

Can’t get much easier than that!

Spicy Indian Tomato Soup – printer friendly version!

RELATED ARTICLE: $17 GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

Tortilla Soup

Crispy tortilla strips and avocado make this soup irresistible on a cold day.

Crispy tortilla strips and avocado make this soup irresistible on a cold day.

Woke up this morning to find that the temp outside had plummeted, which always make me want to cook soup. And, my fridge is now overflowing with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. What is a girl to do? Noting that I also had a few fresh corn tortillas in the fridge and an avocado, I decided to whip up a batch of Tortilla Soup.

This recipe is a family favorite and is really easy to make. You can skip the step for making your own fried tortilla strips, but I encourage you to take time and effort, which is minimal, to make them. Store bought chips just aren’t satisfying enough and with the chili/salt topping, you will want make these chips over and over just for nibbling. Although I do highly recommend making the soup too. You will be glad you did.

Let me know what you think of the recipe.

Tortilla Soup

6 Servings

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomatoes, petit diced
  • 4 cups stock – chicken or turkey
  • 1 ½ cup tomato juice
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into ½ inch strips
  • oil for frying
  • chili powder, salt
  • 2 cups, cooked chicken or turkey, shredded
  • 1 cup cheddar or monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • lime wedges

In a saucepan, pour in the vegetable oil, and sauté the onion and garlic over medium-low heat until translucent; make sure to not burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes, stock, and tomato juice. Add the spices and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes to meld the flavors.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Fry the tortilla strips in small batches and cook until they become crisp and golden. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and chili powder immediately.

Add the chicken or turkey to the soup to warm it through.

To plate the soup, place the crisped tortilla strips in the bottom of a bowl. Then top with the cheese and avocado. Pour the hot soup over the whole thing, top with a generous dollop of sour cream and a nice squeeze of lime, and serve.

This is truly love in a bowl. A definite Do Again! Just ask my kids.

 NOTE: I sometimes add lime zest along with salt and pepper to the sour cream to elevate the taste even more.