A LITTLE BIT OVERBOARD…
The rain has settled in for the day and I am perfectly content with it as I was looking for a reason to put on my cozy pants and have a quiet afternoon in. Kyle spent some time in the emergency room last week after an accident at work, and was in California all weekend, and we’ve been fighting a bad cough, so a quiet afternoon… make that a quiet week, is just what we need around here.
For the past couple of weeks our kitchen has been a non-stop, stocking-up station. I’ve been pickling the last of our green tomatoes, made a half gallon and a quart of pickled jalepeños, and we have enough chicken and vegetable stock, Sweet Potato Soup, and Leek and Potato Soup to last us all fall. Besides an excursion into making Korean Tacos (which included making Korean BBQ Sauce, which included making Orange Marmalade, and Cucumber Kimchi, Korean Slaw, and Korean Salsa) I’ve been sticking almost entirely to creamy vegetable soups and hearty chicken soups. In fact, I may have gone a little overboard.
Something about the dumping rain and dramatic cloud cover just drive me to cook, and cook, and cook, and cook. It also drives me to buy way too much fresh bread from the local bakery. But we need all the bread to go with all of the soup! I’ve promised myself that this week I would take a break from stocking up (except for the chicken stock currently simmering on the stove), and that I’d make very simple dinners in an effort to carve out some time to think through all of the different aspects of my busy little life.
Somehow I’ve always managed to run a photography business, this blog, and my local food website simultaneously while parenting. Lately, this ability to work and parent at the same time has ground to a halt. For the last six months this has been pretty much impossible to get anything done and it feels like something is always taking a hit. I’m trying to figure out a way to make it all work on my own since we need my income and hiring any childcare isn’t in our budget. It’s one thing for me to be cooking, taking photos, and journaling ideas, but working on the computer while they are up and running is proving to be a losing endeavor all the way around. I’ve always been a “doer” and a relatively good planner so I’m sure I’ll figure something out.
In the meantime, I’ve got a pretty impressive stash of soup in the freezer to nourish us while I attempt to break things down, and problem solve my own personal balance of work, motherhood, and personal health and sanity. The kids are napping now, the rain is still falling, and I have reheated some leftovers to eat for lunch while I attempt to divide the current pile of multitasking madness that is my life into something organized and doable! I should be able to figure it out before they wake up from this nap, right?
Normally during nap is when I prep my dinner stuff, so that means tonight we will be having…. soup! From the freezer! My favorite thing I’ve made in these past couple weeks has been a very simple Leek and Potato Soup. I planted dozens of leeks in the “bed” along the back of our house so making this soup also involved my favorite activity: harvesting. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about pulling heavy-with-soil leeks from the ground!
I’ve halved the recipe below because I’m assuming most of you didn’t plant too many leeks this summer, and I ended up with about 10 servings after freezing half! My version of Leek and Potato Soup is simple, rich, silky, and it feels completely appropriate to enjoy on a rainy evening. We will have big bowls of soup tonight, topped with a dollop of mascarpone cheese, a little flaky salt, and minced parsley or chives.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pound thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (ends discarded)
1 quart low-sodium vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 pound peeled and cubed russet potatoes
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
mascarpone cheese (optional)
very finely minced Italian parley or chives
Maldon or flaky salt
To clean the leeks, place the sliced leeks in a large bowl and cover them in cold water. Agitate to loosen any dirt that is hiding in the layers. Lift the leeks from the water bath into a strainer and drain.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Add in the leeks, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few turns of pepper. Sauté the leeks for about five minutes on medium high heat until they have softened a bit. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the leeks for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and tender.
Add the broth, water, and potatoes to the pot. Bring it to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely cooked and soft. Move the pot off of the heat before stirring in the cream, half and half, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Using an immersion blender purée the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup in batches to blender and purée until smooth. Leave the plug off, covering the whole on the small hole with a thickly folded towel. This allows some of the steam to escape so you’re not created any pressure. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the soup to bowls, top with a little mascarpone cheese, a pinch of flaky salt and fresh herbs.
Serves 10 adults.
LEEK AND POTATO SOUP