Monday, February 27, 2012

Potato Leek Soup and the Last Weekend in February

Our winter-that-never-was is almost over.  With just two more days to February (thanks to a "29th" added this leap year), and a record for low snowfall amounts, March is almost here! March's arrival always seems (to me, anyway) as a welcome to spring, even though we've been known to have some pretty big snowstorms just before or after the season's official start.  I remember March of 1993 when Mother Nature dumped 27 inches of snow right around St. Patrick's Day.  Skidmore College (where I work)  had to close because the parking lots were too full of snow!  And eleven  years before that, in April of 1982, we had a huge storm which I remember very well because I was in the hospital with my newborn daughter Tricia.  It was very quiet on the floor because  no one could come visit due to the massive storm.  As I write this, I can hear the meteorologist on my TV predicting a storm for this coming weekend.  Should we take it seriously?  It's almost like the boy who cried "wolf"...we've had warnings this winter and then, nothing.  If we do get a big storm, no one will be ready for it!

IF we do get that storm, and IF we are snowed in (unlikely) there's a soup I recommend for just such a situation.  This past weekend, Katie made Potato Leek Soup.  She used a recipe from one of her America's Test Kitchen cookbooks,  reliable and often used resources for many of her creations.  Katie's a very good cook.  We differ in that she is faithful to a recipe, and I use a recipe for inspiration and then take it from there!  The difference is that her efforts are always worth it, and some of mine are, shall we say, learning experiences!  Oh well, most of the time I am pleasantly surprised, and end up posting the successes here on my blog!

Here's the recipe for the delicious soup that Katie made this weekend.  It's comfort in a bowl, mild, mellow, and beautiful in its simplicity.  Storm or no, it's a great bowl of soup to warm up to.

from America's Test Kitchen  (with minimal adaptations)

Serves 10
4 -5 lbs. Leeks
6 TB. unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
1 TB all-purpose flour
5 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 lbs red potatoes (about 5 medium)
salt and pepper to taste

Cutoff the roots and tough dark-green pats of the leeks, leaving about 3" of the light green part.
Chop the leeks, you'll have about 11 cups.  Once the leeks are cut, it's a good time to clean them.  Submerge them in a bowl of cold water and swish around, allowing any dirt/sand to settle to the bottom of the bowl.

Heat the butter in a stockpot over medium low. (Katie has a massive, cobalt blue, Le Creuset Dutch Oven that I covet.)  Add the leeks and increase the heat to medium. Cook until tender, not mushy. Sprinkle with flour and stir, cooking for about 2 min.  Gradually add the stock, bay leaf and potatoes. Cover.

Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 min. Discard the bay leaf.  At this point, Katie used her Kitchen Aid immersion blender (also coveted) and blended most of the soup into a nice, smooth consistency, leaving a few solid chunks of potato for texture.

Serving Size: 1 cup

Number of Servings: 10

Odie patiently waiting for Pete to drop some food on the floor!

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