Monday, March 4, 2013

Eating Omily: Simply Delectable

For most of us, our most comforting foods tend to be heavy, rich, rib-sticking, and not necessarily the most nutritious choices possible: chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, French onion soup, big, warm, sweet cinnamon rolls...mmm, I wouldn't turn down any of those any day!

Another thing those dishes and their ilk (lasagna...barbecued pulled pork...home-made gnocchi with pesto...) have in common is that they tend to be a fair amount of trouble to make.  Any one of those dishes is actually pretty manageable with a little know-how and confidence, but you aren't going to tackle any one of them late on a week night, no matter how rough of a day you've had.

One of my favourite comfort foods is, however, both nutritiously sound, and absurdly simple to make.  It's so simple in fact, you hardly ever see it on a restaurant menu.  If you want it, you really have to make it yourself: I'm speaking, of course, of the mildly sweet, hearty and satisfying potato and leek soup.

Because I made it on Friday, and because it's handsdown one of my favourites, and because you absolutely must have it in your arsenal, and because it's still Winter for two and a half more weeks, I'm sharing my recipe with you!

Although, to be fair, it's so simple you can hardly call it a recipe.

Ingredients:

Potatoes
Leeks

Yep, that's it.  Ok, so there's also olive oil or butter, salt, pepper, and water, and I like to garnish each bowl with butter, but seriously, that's it.   It may be tempting to toss in a few carrots, some fresh thyme, whatever you have around, but I really encourage you to try it with only these few ingredients the first time.  When you get good ingredients, and prepare them simply, the flavors shine through in a really special way.  When you make it again, feel free to alter it as you see fit.

Slice your leeks, about one and a half big ones, into rounds, and agitate them in a big bowl of cold water so all the grit trapped in the layers falls away.  Fish them out of the bowl, then dump the dirty water down the sink.

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized soup pot (feel free to double the batch and use a great big pot), and add the sliced leeks.  Salt, stir, and let them go.  While they get a head start, slice the potatoes, about a pound and a half or so (you want roughly equal quantities of each veggie), into roughly bite-sized pieces.  Add the potatoes, add a generous shake of salt, and stir again.  Give the potatoes a moment to make friends with the leeks, then add about two quarts of water.  Add another generous shake of salt.  You don't want to go overboard, but you do want to season all the water you just added.  Stir, cover, and crank up the heat.  If you just let it boil away, it will be ready in about ten or fifteen minutes.  If you keep it at the simmer, it will likely need a little more time.  Let the potatoes get very tender.

This next step is optional, but for me, it's so good it's worth dirtying an extra dish.  Use a ladle to transfer as much of the hot soup as will safely fit into a blender or food proccessor.  Make sure the lid is vented so the steam can escape, or pressure will build up, and you could have a hot soup explosion!  Pulse to coarsely purree.  I don't worry about pureeing all of the soup necessarily.  It takes another bowl to purree in batches, and if I can get half or more of the soup into the blender at once, I'm willing to leave the rest as is.  I was making it for guests I may take the time to puree the whole batch to up the fancy factor.  Of course, if you're one of those lucky dogs with a stick blender, you have no excuse!  Puree away!

Stir the pureed soup back into the bowl, and serve hot, with little pats of butter on top, and an extra sprinkle of sea salt.  It really doesn't need anything else, and trust me, it doesn't get any better than this.

I get my leeks and potatoes at the Farmer's Market (of course), and the leeks are sweet and floral, and the potatoes I choose, German butterballs, are the perfect middleground between starchy and waxy, and have a floral buttery aroma you will not believe.  If you can get your hands on them, do.

We're smack in potato and leek season!  Why not have this for dinner?  Go for it, and let me know if you're as thrilled with it as I am!
Nom!

Are we still meal planning?  You bet!  And by the way, if you want to give it a go, or just keep an eye on my meal planning exploits to give you a better idea of how it works and if it would work for you, you can make an account on www.saymmm.com, and friend me to check out my plans, shopping lists, and (very scant since I mostly cook intuitively, or from a select few cookbooks) recipes! My username is 'omily'.  Just search, and add!  Need more temptation?  Here's a few delicious dinners I made last week, both in twenty minutes or less from Farmer's Market ingredients!
Mushroom-leek flatbread pizzas courtesy of Cook Yourself Sexy by Candice Kumai.  I toasted up whole wheat tortillas in the oven, instead of rolling out and grilling pizza dough, to make these even faster and healthier!

Chicago-style hotdogs from the Farmer's Market on whole wheat buns, with home-made pickled veggies, and home-made garlic mayonnaise!  We burnt the buns a bit toasting them, but they were still amazing!  Remind me to share my mayonnaise recipe with you guys!

Enjoy!

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