Monday, November 22, 2010

CSA 25: Soup

Potato and leek, week after week. And yet it took me this long to make soup. I confound myself sometimes. I mean, who am I? Do I even know me? I love potato leek soup. And it’s super easy to make. I mean, ridiculously simple. All you really need is potatoes, leeks, some fat and some liquid. Why did I wait so long?

Admittedly I did jazz it up a bit more then that, but really you could make a delicious potato leek soup with just those ingredients.

I used some of my homemade broth as my liquid, and I seasoned my soup with salt. And I finished it with a generous few dollops of hot sauce. Now you might think "oh no hot sauce for me! I don't care for hot." To which I respond - try it, its not hot. The soup is so starchy the 'hot' gets totally lost, the sauce simply gives a depth of flavor. It makes sense really - potato is often cooked with [bell] pepper (think home fries, pot roasts, etc) and served with vinegar (fries with malt vinegar, potato salad, etc) and pepper and vinegar are the main ingredients in hot sauce. So really its no surprise the hot sauce adds that final something.

I also leave the skins on my potato. They add nominal flavor but lots and lots of nutrients. Whenever you can eat a vegetable skin, do it. Just scrub it, cook it if necessary but do try to eat the skins.

I finished my soup off in the blender but it’s an optional step. You could easily just eat it as it ends up. I just tend to like smooth soup and since I have a blender, I figure why not use it?  Pureed potato soup gives the impression of a cream soup without all the fat (or the hassle of cooking dairy).

Of course once you get into a soup mood; its convenience, its healthfulness, its ease to make, store and reheat, well it’s hard to not just form a habit; especially during root vegetable season. Crunchy, starchy roots make such lovely soup ingredients. In recent weeks I’ve been getting potatoes, carrots, turnips, radishes, beets and even daikon.

What was I to do with daikon? I mean daikon? What is it even? It’s a root vegetable, that much I could see.  Its sort of a large white cross between a turnip and a carrot, about the size of a zucchini. 

Being soup season and considering at the time I made this I was trying to use up the last of my broth to make room for a new batch, more soup was inevitable. I hadn't been to the grocery store in a while for staples so I wanted a simple soup. Lentil was an easy choice. I figured daikon was a root vegetable, and most root vegetables, such as turnip and carrot, taste good in lentil soup, so it would too. I was right.

The daikon cooked down to a melt-in-your mouth consistency. It’s got a mild, starchy flavor, which picked up salt deliciously. The lentils gave the soup nice body, thick and meaty, and they are a classic soup base for a reason – lentils only require minimal seasoning to make a great meal.

Much like the potato soup before it, I jazzed it up a bit, using my vegetable broth (and water) as my liquid, but any liquid you like will do. You can use broth (homemade or store bought), plain water, you can throw a bouillon into the pot, or any combination of these ideas. You can even use one of those soup seasoning packets they sell at the grocery store if sodium isn’t a huge concern for you. That’s one of the beauties of soup – most soups are quite forgiving recipes. And of course if you are on a budget, well the old adage "you can always water the soup" still stands true - you almost always can just add more liquid to stretch your soup and therefore your budget.

Potato Leek Soup
1 pound of small gold potatoes
1 leek, trimmed of greens
Butter, olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
Hot sauce

Melt the butter in some olive oil. Dice the potato and leek and add to the oil. Cook about 2 or 3 minutes stirring often. Add the broth and water, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for about half an hour. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot simmer another minute or two and turn off heat. Serve into bowl(s) and sprinkle generously with hot sauce.

Lentil Daikon Soup
1 daikon, chopped into cubes about the size of dice
1 cup dry lentils
6 cups liquid
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, well chopped
Olive oil & butter

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and daikon and cook about 3 minutes, stirring a bit, to soften the veggies. Add the garlic and cook about 1 more minute. Add the lentils and liquid, bring the heat up to get the soup boiling, reduce the heat again, cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, occasionally stirring. Season with some Adobo and enjoy.

And FYI – lentil soup freezes well, so don’t feel obligated to eat it all at once… of course its low fat, high fiber and has a reasonable amount of protein from the lentils, so don’t feel guilty if you do eat it all.

1 comment:

  1. Daikon has intrigued me since I saw it on iron chef. I think I may try this recipe!! Potato leek soup yummo!!