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.

Rainbow Chard Quick-Pickles

Last week I made a Spicy Asian Pork Soup that used rainbow swiss chard. After finishing the soup,  I just couldn’t throw out the stems – they were just too pretty.

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Aren’t they just gorgeous?

But what do you do with chard stems besides saute them?

Well, when you have leftover pickle juice, you pickle them!

In my fridge, I had leftover spicy pickle juice from some pickled green beans. ( I like to keep pickle juice on hand for a variety of things, deviled eggs, quick pickled beets -you might be surprised how handy it can be) I just dumped the juice into a medium-sized pot and brought it to a boil.

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Then I tossed in the chard slivers and simmered it for about 5 minutes. I then poured the juice and chard into a wide-mouth canning jar, let it cool, and placed it into the fridge.

It was that easy.

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What can you do with these, you ask? You can top a salad with them to give it a little zing or  put it on top of a pulled pork sandwich or fish taco. Or a hamburger. Or hot dog! Or. . .

I bet you could think of even more ideas.

So, next time you are cooking, think outside of the box. Don’t throw out ingredients like swiss chart stems, make them into something new – like PICKLES!

ENJOY!

The Biggest Loser and Food Trends for 2014

Food Trends for 2014

Food Trends for 2014

Monday evening the husband came home with an announcement. He had joined a Biggest Loser contest at work and was going on a STRICT diet. What?! I have to cook diet food? For two months? This was not in my plan. I mean, just like many others, I did a fine job of binging over the holidays and feel the need to cleanse my system to shed a few pounds, but a full-on diet? I have never done that. So I got researching.

To try and accomplish this task of revamping our diet, I went out and purchased the January edition of Bon Appetit magazine. The cover, with an asian pork noodle soup and the tag line “the new healthy” got my attention. Inside, I focused on the  section that made several predictions for what is going to be trending this year. It appears that we are going to be eating a lot of greens, grains (other than wheat), fish, and local, rather than industrial, meats – such as pasture raised chickens and grass-fed beef. Oh yeah, the gluten-free  and nut milk movement is going to increase as well.

Time magazine though has a different twist on the food trend theme. They are predicting that kohlrabi is the new kale. I remember my grandmother growing this veggie on her farm in western North Carolina. It is a strange-looking vegetable that is usually pickled or used raw like jicama. I grew it a few years ago and had trouble figuring out what to do with the suckers. I think I waited too long to harvest them because many were the size of a toddler’s head and had a thick skin that was difficult to trim. Maybe I should give it another try. We’ll see; I am not convinced that this trend is going to go mainstream.

The most interesting food trend I have heard so far though comes from Joel Stein, a Time magazine columnist. He is predicting, with assistance from Alvin Roth, a Stanford professor in economics, that veganism is going to take over the world and all meat eaters may become officially repugnant. They point to current issues with factory farming and health concerns over red meat as to why these offensive meat eaters are losing ground in popularity.

In the article, “The Future is Now. . .ish”, Roth states, “We already don’t eat whale. We think whales might be smart. The next question is cows.” Well, I for one can vouch that cows are smart. Well, some cows. On the farm, I saw cows, especially Bertha and Bossy do some highly intelligent stuff. I mean, Bertha was a wiz at algebraic calculations and Bossy built a two-stroke engine that was solar powered. Now that is talent! Fortunately for them, we never ate Bossy nor Bertha – just their offspring, who weren’t quite as intelligent. Chalk this one up to survival of the fittest.

A peek into my fridge.

A peek into my fridge.

Thus, with all of this food trend insight, I shuffled off the the grocery and farmer’s market to load up on my hip, cool foods. Once home, I laid them out on the counter and began to formulate my plans for healthy, yet delicious meals for the week. I am going to make that asian noodle soup, pan-sauteed flounder, tofu veggie noodles with teriyaki, and a farro/beet/goat cheese salad (beets are hip right now too). I am also eating a lot of clementines, fruit smoothies, and hot tea with lemon. I will post some of these recipes later this week.

My question to you is – What are you eating right now? I can always use some new ideas!

Oh yeah, and Joel Stein. . .  I plan on remembering all of your predictions for 2014, so you aren’t off the hook. Especially the one about the “obese, polygamist, vegan President on steroids who keeps a brain-dead clone of himself around for spare parts.” Somehow I don’t think that one will fly.

Vegan Chipotle Chili – and yes Virginia, it does taste delicious!

I am not a vegan, but I do like to eat less meat and my husband loves chili.

Vegan Chipotle Chili

Vegan Chipotle Chili

What is a gal to do?

Fortunately, one of my vegetarian friends told me about a great product called Field Roast sausages. I how found them at Whole Foods, but I am sure other markets have them as well. I have eaten the apple/sage and italian sausages multiple times and loved them, but never the chipotle. So, in an attempt to please me AND my husband I decided to experiment. I was up front about how the chili was vegan and my husband was willing to try it.

I am please to say that not only did he like it; he loved it! He chowed down a big bowl and said he was willing to consider it a Do Again. Whoopie! Hope you like it too!

Vegan Chipotle Chili – Printer-friendly version!

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ large white onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1lb package of  Field Roast Chipotle sausages, crumbled
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp masa harina

Place the olive oil into a heavy saucepan and over medium heat. Put the diced onion and minced garlic into the pan and sauté until translucent, not browned. Stir occasionally.

While the vegetables are sautéing, take the sausages out of their casings and crumble. Place the crumbled sausage into the pan and cook until slightly browned. This gives a nice texture to the crumbles.

Add the cumin and cook for a few minutes to release its oils. Once fragrant, pour in the vegetable stock, and simmer. After about 20 minutes, sprinkle the masa harina in the chili to thicken it. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until it is to a consistency that you desire.

WARNING: The chili, at this point, is quite spicy. So, to account for that, we put additional toppings such as sour cream, grated cheese, cilantro and minced red onion. But that makes it not vegan – the good thing is that there are vegan alternatives for these dairy items – if being vegan is important to you. What we did find out though, was that after it sits in the fridge overnight, the spiciness mellows out and it is much more palatable for those who do not desire to eat fiery food. Personally, I liked it spicy. Another way you can tone down the spices is to use some links of the Italian Field Roast sausages. Both techniques work well.

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!

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