Friday, February 28, 2014

Food Friday: Cold Comfort (Food)

I heard on the radio this morning that we in the Mid-Atlantic are "supposed" to be in the 50s this time of year. I don't know, I grew up 45 minutes from here, and I always think of February as one of the coldest months. For me and my newfound love of the kitchen, that means making warming comfort food. And what better comfort food than soup? Soup made with root vegetables.

I love the hell out of my immersion blender. Okay, to be fair, I got the blender for Jake for his birthday a few years ago. But I use it a lot too. I love the way it makes a chunky soup smooth in just minutes. I love that I don't have to worry about pouring hot liquid into my blender, because I just know I'd end up with scalding skin. I don't love the cramps it gives my hand, but it's a small price to pay for a smooth soup.

I also love the hell out of the How to Cook Everything app. Mark Bittman is a genius, and to have an amazing cookbook literally at my fingertips, where I can export a shopping list and refer to how-tos without having to flip pages is a huge bonus. (Fellow bookworms, don't throw tomatoes at me: I have plenty of real-and-true cookbooks, too!) And so here's what I did with his recipe for Potato-Leek Soup. I hope it warms your home as much as it did mine.

(Recipe after the jump.)

Potato-Leek Soup
(Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 leeks, white and light green parts, washed and sliced into thin rings
Salt & pepper
4 cups vegetable stock (you can use beef or chicken too, but I was intrigued by making a fully-vegetarian meal)
1/2 cup sour cream

First things first: washing leeks is completely necessary. The sheer amount of dirt that came off of my leeks was insane, and I shudder to think how the soup would have tasted or felt with that dirt inside. After cutting off the roots and dark green leaves, I split the leeks lengthwise, then cut each half into thin slices crosswise. I put all of the pieces in a bowl, covered with cold water, and swished it around. Then, I drained the bowl into a colander. Lather (not really), rinse (really), and repeat. Marvel over the dirt left over in the bowl.

Put the oil in a dutch oven (or other large pot) over medium heat. When hot, add the potatoes, leeks, and salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.

Add the stock, heat until it bubbles (you might have to up the heat), and let simmer until the potatoes are very soft, about 20-30 minutes. You can serve the soup as-is, or take out your trusty blender (as I did), and blend until the texture is consistent. Stir in sour cream; if you've put the soup in a blender rather than using your immersion blender, you may have to heat it back up to serve.

Add more salt and pepper to taste--I used white pepper for aesthetics, but black pepper would work just as well--and serve.

Stay warm!

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