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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Eggplant Parmesan – Providence Style

Eggplant pretty

Everyone has a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan, so why should you even look at mine? Well, mine is  different. I learned mine from an Italian lady from Providence, RI. they know Italian cooking there.

Mine uses egg instead of breading, so it isn’t doughy – something I hate about most eggplant parms. Also, my eggplant is sliced very thin, so it is lighter in texture. AND mine  only uses Parmesan cheese  (um – it is called eggplant parm – right?) instead of heavy mozzarella or provolone. Plus, even though it is fried, it probably has less calories and is healthier for you. Oh yeah, it tastes great too!

This is probably one of my daughter’s favorite meals. She hovers around to stove while I make it just waiting for the first piece of eggplant to come out of the oil. Many times I have to fight her off with a spatula because she tries to devour all of my fried eggplant before I can transform it into the final dish. That is how good this recipe is.

It may look like it takes a lot of time, but if you prep your space properly, it only takes about 10 minutes to fry the eggplant and then just a few more minutes to assemble the whole thing and you are done. Easy-peesy, lemon-squeezy.

Oh yeah, it is gluten free as well.

Serves 4

  • 1 eggplant, sliced thin (1/4-inch) with the skin left on
  • course salt
  • 2 eggs
  • marinara sauce (mine is homemade – if you use store bought get the best brand you can afford)
  • parmesan cheese

salted eggplantPlace the thinly sliced eggplant in a colander. As you layer the eggplant, sprinkle course salt over the slices. This will remove moisture from the eggplant and make them more pliable. Do not skip this step – it is important.

Let the eggplant slices sit in a sink for about 15 minutes. You will see water droplets all over the slices when they are ready. Rinse the eggplant and pat them dry.

While the eggplant is sweating, mix two eggs, 1 tbsp. of water and a pinch of salt into a shallow bowl. Then place about 2 inches of vegetable oil into a frying pan – I like to use a cast iron pan. Heat on high. You will be able to tell when the oil is at the correct temperature when you drop a small piece of bread into the oil and begins to sizzle and cook immediately.

Fry stationNow set up your frying station. If you look at my picture, you will see that I have my egg wash next to the frying pan with the dry eggplant slices next to the bowl as well. On the left I have placed two paper towels, with four more ready off to the side.

When the oil is ready, dip three to four eggplant slices into the egg wash.  Let the eggwash drip off the slices and then carefully place them into the oil. They will cook quickly, stay at the stove ready to flip them over after about 1 to 1 ½ minutes. The second side will take even less time.

Remove the slices to the paper towels and blot to remove the excess oil. They should be golden brown with little lacy eggy crunchies on the edges. Yum!

Cooked eggplantRepeat this process until all of the eggplant slices have been cooked. You can reserve the slices so that you can assemble the dish later, or just do it immediately. First, place a think layer of marinara in the serving dish, then top with eggplant slices to cover. Then repeat this process until you either get it to the thickness you desire or all eggplant slices are used up.

Or you can make individual towers for a fancier presentation.

Top the dish with a thin layer of sauce and then sprinkle the top with a thin layer of Parmesan cheese. Place the dish in a pre-heated 350° for about 15-20 minutes.

Eggplant ParmLet the dish settle for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven so that it is easier to slice. Serve warm.

In any case, I firmly believe that once you try this method for making Eggplant Parmesan you will never go back. Oh yeah, this method is great for making Zucchini Parmesan as well.

Enjoy!

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!

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!

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.