Roasted Potato Leek Soup + Tiny Garden

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Though I have been working on my dissertation – mostly reading and taking notes – I have also been trying to cook more, and have started up my subscription to the organic produce delivery service, Boston Organics. Basically, they send you a box of fruits and veggies every week or two; you can choose certain things not to include (like, if you hate onions), but otherwise it’s the freshest most local assortment they can procure for that week. It’s great for me right now because it forces me to be a little more creative with my meals; rather than just making recipes off blogs, I have to think of what I can make with the ingredients on hand.

This week, the box included lacinato (dinosaur) kale, leeks, potatoes, broccoli, chives, an avocado, a green bell pepper, crimini mushrooms, plums, bananas, gala apples, and 2 anjou pears. Quite the bounty! I have to admit though, I wasn’t terribly creative with my first recipe. I saw leeks and potatoes, and went straight to roasted potato leek soup. I know it’s not seasonal – soup in the summer? It seems like there are two kinds of soup people: soup-is-for-winter-only people, and I-like-soup-enough-to-make-it-in-the-summer folks. It looks like I’m the latter! The weather hasn’t turned that hot yet, anyway; we haven’t put the AC’s in yet, and can get by with fans circulating the air from the open windows. So, I decided to roughly adapt this recipe from Ina Garten that is probably my favorite soup recipe I’ve ever made. Her version includes arugula, creme fraiche, and heavy cream, none of which were in my refrigerator, so I threw in what I had instead: buttermilk, sour cream, carrots, and celery, for that extra flavor the arugula would add.

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Ina has this lovely recipe for crispy shallots that she serves with her soup, but they take quite awhile to make. Instead I opted to make kale chips for the crunchy bits on top. Here’s my recipe for Roasted Potato Leek Soup with Crispy Kale:

Ingredients

Soup:

2.5 pounds white or gold potatoes, peeled and chopped small

2 large celery sticks, ends removed, roughly chopped

3 small or 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped small

2-3 leeks, dark green parts removed, washed thoroughly and chopped

salt and pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup white wine, plus 2 tbsp

4 cups vegetable stock (may need 1 extra cup, depending on how thick/thin you like your soup)

3/4 cup buttermilk

6 oz. sour cream

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Kale chips: 

1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

red pepper flakes

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and place chopped potatoes, leeks, carrots, and celery on top. Toss with 3 tbsp olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until tender and golden. Flip the veggies with a spatula halfway through cooking.

2. After roasting, deglaze the sheet pan with the white wine, and stir veggies with spatula to scrape up the roasted bits on the sheet pan. Put all of the wine-veggies in a large stock pot or dutch oven, and cover with the 4 cups of broth. Using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables with the broth until your desired consistency (I like my soup relatively smooth, so I blended it for quite awhile). If you don’t have an immersion blender, you should get one; just kidding – you can use a food processor or blender and blend the stock with the vegetables in batches.

3. Place the pot with the blended soup over a stove eye on medium heat, and stir in buttermilk and sour cream. Reheat slowly, stirring frequently.

4. While the soup is reheating, toss the chopped kale with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet in the 400 degree oven. Roast kale until crispy, about 15-20 minutes, flipping and stirring halfway through with a spatula. Really watch the kale – it will burn quickly once it reaches the right amount of crispy.

5. After the soup is heated through, stir in the parmesan cheese and add an additional 1-2 tbsp of white wine. Taste for seasonings, and add a dash of salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, ladel the soup into bowls and top with crispy kale. Drink the leftover white wine on the side!

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In other news, and to completely change the subject, my garden has been growing! The zucchini is particularly flourishing, and the cucumber plants are trellising up some string I placed on the railing. Very exciting! Before and after pics:

Cucumber plants, soon after I planted them:

20150604_101136Cucumber plants now! Note the little swirlies (technical term, I know) creeping up that string:

20150622_135722 20150622_135654Zucchini plants, soon after I planted them (they were larger than the cucumber plants to begin with, and this is not the best picture):

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Little kale:

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Now, the zucchini and kale together! They are looking great:

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You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but the kale has gotten larger and sprouted new leaves. There were originally six small zucchini plants, but the weakest from each container was killed off by the other two stronger plants. Now there are small buds that I think will be flowers, which will produce zucchini. I really hope that I can get at least a few zucchini and cucumbers from these plants. I haven’t been a terribly successful gardener in the past, for various reasons: apartment living and moving every year or so, poor ground soil, and one particularly resilient ground hog. This time, I’m hoping my little plants pull through! For now, I will go eat my non-seasonal leftover soup 🙂

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