I love having people over, and chopping away on a Saturday after a day at the farmer’s market is a great way for me to get R&R. It’s mindless, and I had on NPR all afternoon. About six months ago I made a purchase on Gilt Groupe–it was a tour of the Alice Waters‘ Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley. I’m interested in sustainable farming, gardening and of course cooking so I thought it would be an adventure. I got a signed copy of Alice Waters’ new cookbook In the Green Kitchen. The book is laden with simple easy to make recipes. I chose two for our small dinner party last night.
I made the potato-leek soup, my simple steak recipe, salad and berry cobbler for dessert. Let’s start with the potato leek soup. Leeks are in season, but I must have missed them at the Farmer’s market–I ended up picking them up at Trader Joe’s which I don’t recommend because they are three dollars a bag. French women appear to use them to lose weight, but I just think they taste wonderful. This makes about 6 servings.
2 lbs leeks
3 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
6 cups chick stock
Champagne or white wine vinegar (optional)
fresh-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley or chives
Directions (as instructed by Alice Waters)
Prepare the leeks: Trim off the root ends and the tough upper green tops. Halve the white part of the leeks lengthwise and then, without cutting through the root end, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch-wide strips. [Don’t worry too much about how you cut the leaves, because you will be blending them up eventually.] Wash the diced leeks thoroughly in a large basin of cold water. Once the dirt has settled, scoop them out with a sieve or strainer. Drain and set aside.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil or butter, followed by the leeks, thyme and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender, about 10 minutes. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4 inch dice or slices. Add the potatoes to the pot and cook for three to four minutes. Pour in the chicken stock season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer, and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, but not falling apart. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Let the soup cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Puree in a blender or using an immersion blender before serving.
Before serving, remove the bay leaf and reheat the soup over medium heat and taste again for salt. If you like add a splash of champagne or white wine vinegar to sharpen the flavors. Stir in 1/3 cup heavy cream before serving.
Ladle the soup into warm serving bowls. Finish with a few grinds of the peppermill, and garnish with chopped parsley or chives.