28 January 2008

Delicious Simple Food: Soup & Salad

Last night, having just said goodnight to J, I was unable to fall asleep. While we were on the phone, I was drifting off to dreamland, so the problem wasn't lack of sleepiness. What was running around my mind in circles, preventing sleep? Was it the stress of returning to work on a dreary Monday? Was it missing my boyfriend whom I won't see for another couple weeks? Was it indigestion?


It was Creamy Baked Potato Soup. Not that I don't miss you terribly, J, but for some reason soup was weighing on my mind last night. I blame Amy Finley, winner of the Next Food Network Star contest. I had her show on while napping yesterday, and I vaguely remember a warm potato leek soup being made. That dish planted the seed that bloomed into tonight's dinner. As I tossed and turned in bed, my mouth was watering over a deliciously smooth, pale concoction with a healthy topping of grated cheese and bacon pieces. I am pretty sure if I had potatoes other than baby redskins, I would have jumped out of bed and whipped up a batch of soup.

Fortunately for me, the soup was just as delicious during daylight hours. I have never made potato soup before, and I was basically experimenting as I went. When I stopped by the grocery on the way home, I knew I wanted russet potatoes and leeks. I also decided to buy another package of bacon in case I didn't have any at home. I am not incredibly tempted by bacon on its own, so I like to have a package in my fridge ready to go into dishes as needed.

I broke out two of my Christmas presents for this soup. I used my new enameled 5 quart cast iron French oven and my new Kitchenaid Immersion Blender. The French oven is nice, but where has this immersion blender been all my life?! It is amazing. I can make creamy, thick, pureed soups with nearly no effort. I cannot wait to find more ways to use this blender.

The soup is fairly rich and hearty, so I needed to counter-balance it with a salad. This weekend at the Worthington Winter Farmer's Market, I purchased some beautiful baby greens. I threw together a very quick salad of baby greens, sliced steamed beets, a sprinkle of feta cheese, lightly tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Ground Black Pepper and Maldon Sea Salt. I love Maldon Sea Salt on salads - try it sometime. The salad was the perfect complement to my soup.

Josie's Creamy Potato Soup

6 slices of bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, thoroughly cleaned, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 large russet potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
1 quart chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
black pepper
reserved bacon
thinly sliced green onions
grated cheese, Cheddar or Colby are good

Cook the bacon on medium high heat in an enameled cast iron French oven until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain using a slotted spoon. Discard all the rendered bacon fat except 2 teaspoons. Add the onions, leeks and thyme to the French oven. Allow the onion mixture to sauté for about 7 minutes, until soft and barely beginning to turn golden. The onions will pick up the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the oven. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon occasionally to lift off the brown bits. Add the potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook about 20 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. Using an immersion blender, thoroughly blend the soup until thick and creamy. You can leave some chunks if you like. Stir the heavy cream into the soup, add salt and pepper to taste.

I like to garnish the soup with a little grated cheese, the reserved bacon and sliced green onions.

1 comment:

Erica said...

Tj got me an immersion blender for my birthday a couple years ago and I have never been so excited. Forget that myth about not buying your loved one kitchen gadgets. Gimme more! I used it yesterday for a butter bean, sage and bacon soup. Eerily familiar to your potato soup. Great minds think alike!