Saturday, June 25, 2011

Potato Leek Soup

The second in the series is one of my favorites so far, potato leek soup. It has a full, rich flavor and will fill your stomach without any need for a side dish. Plus, I was able to make it with some really great vegetables grown in my Aunt De and Uncle Ron's garden, where they did use composting and did not use synthetic chemicals to grow some really delicious vegetables. I was so excited about these, I took some pictures:

Here, we have the pear-potato.

Next is the impressively-sized garlic bulb that is larger than the palm of my hand.

And here are a number of potatoes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, coexisting peacefully.

Accompanying the potato diversity and many cloves of garlic in this soup is the leek - in my opinion, one of the most undervalued and best-named vegetables.1 And so, without further adieu, the recipe:

Superlative soup.
Potato Leek Soup2
(Fills a 2-quart slow cooker, about 3 bowls)

1 tbsp dried thyme (can substitute fresh thyme)
1 tbsp dried rosemary (can substitute fresh rosemary)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1.5 large or 2-3 small leeks,  chopped
2-4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
5-6 cloves roasted garlic
Whole milk, half & half, or cream, added later

To roast garlic:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the cloves attached. Cut off the top of the bulb so that the cloves are exposed. Cover in (olive) oil, wrap in aluminum foil, and place on baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Remove cloves, being sure to separate from the skins.

To make the soup:
Add all but the dairy to the slow cooker, making sure everything is submerged in the broth and water. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4. For a smooth soup (recommended), put soup and dairy product of your choice into food processor and puree.

(Oh hey, the footnotes:)
1. For example, shouting "I've got a leek!" Also, imagining the scene if this were actually Benny Franklin's quote: "A small leek can sink a great ship."

2. Recipe ganked and modified from here.

African Peanut Soup

Here, 5 months after writing the drafts, are my 2 posts in the "souper bowl" series:

The day I bought my $5 slow cooker1 from the big box store that shall not be named2 was the day my life changed. Before that day, having soup either meant eating canned, high-sodium stuff or running a very high risk of having to talk to crazy people at The Table3. But no more. Through the power of the slow cooker, I could make a great variety of high-quality, healthy soup. So here begins my series of soup recipes.

The first soup I made was the one that always lured me to The Table despite the crazy people and awkward conversations. The African peanut soup there is really delicious. This recipe doesn't quite match the flavor, but it is still pretty good. The essential ingredients are red pepper, crushed tomatoes, onions, and peanut butter4. The secret is getting just the right amount of peanut butter.

Don't judge a soup by its color.

African Peanut Soup5
(Fills a 2-quart slow cooker, so about 3 bowls)

1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
14 oz crushed tomatoes, with liquid
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 t black pepper
Dash of cumin, and
A bit more coriander
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
6 oz peanut butter (to add later)

Put all ingredients but the peanut butter into the crockpot.
Cook them on low for 6-8 hours or on high for about 4. The soup is done when the onions are fully cooked and are translucent.
Stir in the peanut butter and cook on high for 20-30 minutes, or until fully heated through.
For chunky soup, serve as is. However, I like my soups smooth so I put it in the food processor for a little.
Serve immediately, or let it cool in the refrigerator and then reheat, allowing peanut butter taste to become even better.

(Oh hey, the footnotes:)
1. I use the term slow cooker because calling it a crockpot is like calling off-brand facial tissue Kleenex. (Or, in SAT terms, slow cooker: crockpot :: facial tissue: Kleenex.) It will be understood, but it is not terribly accurate.

2. It's this one. Also, I may or may not have gone in the early morning hours of the reviled day of consumerism. While I was there from approximately 1-2:30 AM, elderly employees gave me both donut holes and 5-hour energy. ♥ America.

3. For those not familiar, The Table is like a soup kitchen for college students and graduates, many of whom study/ied the humanities or social sciences, and so are more likely to be unemployed through choice or circumstance and thus have little money1. It also seems to attract a number of conspiracy theorists and general jabberers, but surprisingly few homeless people.

4. I've been using the peanut butter machine at Open Harvest, which has the benefit of not having extra oil and being organic while also not being terribly overpriced2. Plus, it's pretty fun to be able to press a button on a machine that (magically?) turns peanuts into peanut butter.

5. Recipe is ganked and modified from here.
1. Sadly, this will likely be true throughout their (our) lives.
2. Not always the case at the OH.