Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book Outtake, Our Favorite Leek and Potato Soup + Bonus Stock Recipe

When Rikki Snyder and I are working together shooting for a book or a web or magazine feature, we always seem to throw in a recipe or two. I'm not a cookbook author but Rikki is a fantastic food photographer and it seems a shame not to use our farmhouse as a backdrop for some pretty food photos. We give the photos to the editors and usually they are not used - not because they are bad - but because we get carried away and style and photograph too many things. I love this photo Rikki took in our kitchen. 

Photo by Rikki Snyder
I painted this oil painting at least a decade ago. I wanted to have a still life of food somewhere in my kitchen. One day I sat down before making Leek and Potato Soup and worked up this painting. It has hung next to the stove for many years. When we were shooting, I thought it would be fun to recreate the scene in the painting on the counter below the painting. 

Spring is officially here but it certainly doesn't feel like it. I keep seeing photos of spring in different areas of the northern hemisphere but we aren't even close. On Friday evening, we had another snowstorm but luckily, the sun came out Saturday afternoon and that new snow melted quickly. 

Our winter dinners this year have consisted of lots of soup. I have been a soup girl all my life and I'm happy to say Julia seems to enjoy it too. Even The Farmer this winter admitted that he likes soup for supper. This was a biggie because when I tried to palm off soup as a meal for many years, he was never overwhelmed with its deliciousness. This year though seems to be a turning point and he is all in with the soup dinners. 

Our family has its soup favorites and it is often that I make a large pot on Sunday and in the middle of the week and we enjoy it through the week. Because we live on a sheep farm, lamb is often a component, although not always. I've shared some of our favorites - Scotch Broth and Lamb and Lentil Soup - on the Leyden Glen Lamb website. The soup I am sharing today is always in the soup rotation. I love the simplicity of Leek and Potato Soup - just a very few ingredients and it is so delicious and warming on a winter or spring day.

Our Favorite Leek and Potato Soup 

1/4 cup vegetable oil or bacon fat
2 large leeks
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
2 pounds Russet potatoes
6 cups chicken stock (or half stock, half water) or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the leek into two pieces just above where the leek is light green. *Set aside the green top. Remove the root end and set aside. Slice the leek vertically in 2 pieces. Chop the leek up into slices about 1/2" long. Place them in a bowl of water and separate. Wash the pieces to remove the grit and sand. Shake it to remove much of the water.

*Peel the onion, setting aside the peel and the top and bottom ends. Chop the onion into pieces about 1/4". Peel and slice the garlic into slivers. Peel the potatoes (*reserving the peels to make vegetable stock). Cut into 1" chunks.

Heat about 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil or bacon fat in a soup pot. Add the leeks and onion and cook so that they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the stock or stock/water and the potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the burner down and cover the pot. Let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes. The potatoes and veggies should be very soft. 

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Depending on my mood, sometimes I puree the soup until very creamy. Sometimes I pull out some of the potatoes and break them into chunks before pureeing the soup. Then I add the small chunks to the pureed mixture for a soup with a little more texture. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Serve in bowls with a pat of butter or a touch of cream or half and half if feeling decadent. A little chopped parsley is a nice garnish.

* This winter I have been saving all the beginnings of my veggie prep to make stock. Every night when prepping veggies I place the peelings of carrots, potatoes, ends of onions and the green parts of the leeks in a bag in my freezer. When I have enough remnants (or I run out of room in the freezer) I place the frozen bits in a stock pot and cover with water. I add an extra carrot, a stick of celery, some bay leaves, some thyme and I cook it for a good long time - about 2 hours - adding more water as it evaporates. I let it cool and then strain it through a fine mesh colander. It is delicious for soup bases or cooking rice in. I love to make something out of nothing, don't you? If I have extra lamb bones or chicken bones, I will cook it all together for a nice non-veggie stock. I can never have enough stock in my freezer! On a rushed night, I can turn some stock into a quick soup by adding a can of beans, some rice, and odds and ends of chicken. 


Pammie said...

can't wait to try the soup and the stock recipe, too - thank you!

Auntie Shan said...

yeah.. "SPRING", eh? -- So far, the only thing that is springy, is the Temperature bouncing around like a yo-yo!! One minute it's a massive melt down and the next, an ice age! -- I was trying to keep up with scooping melt water yesterday, and today that same puddle looks like a Martian ICE-FLOW! Overnight temps plunged to -29C... Luckily, we just missed your last storm! Most of it anyway...

hmm, never tasted leek & potato soup before... I'm more of a tomato & red pepper or onion [sans fromage!] fan. - whatever. Could've used either today!

Auntie Shan said...

BTW, THANKS for the PINTEREST "like"!!

Suze said...

Yeah we got 5" of fresh snow in Madison WI last night. My poor tulips were buried!
I love soup and I wish my kids were less discerning about it. They love some kinds and won't touch others. We're making progress though. That's something :)

Sojourner Design said...

The soup recipe was a big hit here! The next day my husband went out and dug up the rest of the leeks so I could make more soup! Also like the vegetable scraps idea; I have a pot on the stove right now!


Kristin Nicholas said...

Hi Diane! Glad you tried the soup - I have to make another batch this week. Are you doing the Webs Tent Sale? I signed up so I hope I see you there.