Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Soup and Bread, Part 1

This past Sunday I started coming down with a cold. As usual it was just me and JJ for the morning. I sat down on the couch for a few minutes and watched him play, and thought about staying there; what the hell, I was sick! I could watch a video, or something.... But no, that wouldn't do. I am not sure at what point in my life I forgot how to just sit around relaxing; probably some time after L was born.

Instead of loading up a DVD, I thought about the leeks I had picked up at the store on Saturday. Good-looking leeks are a rarity around here, so when I see them, I tend to buy some even if I don't know what I'm going to do with them. I got some Yukon Gold potatoes, too--organic ones, because their regular ones were all green--with the vague thought that I hadn't made mashed potatoes in ages.

This is obviously leading up to potato-leek soup. But I wanted something to go with it, and it was too late in the morning to start bread and have it ready by lunch time. Suddenly I remembered the existence of Irish soda bread. I first made this for supper club a couple of years ago--we were doing a St. Patrick's day theme--and while it's definitely not something I would make all the time, it does make a nice change of pace once in a while, and it's the easiest thing in the world to make. I even had buttermilk in the fridge. I mixed it up, put it in the oven, and got to work on the soup.

The very good advice in Julie and Julia notwithstanding, I don't use a recipe for making potato-leek soup any more. I put a few tablespoons of butter in a pot, chop up a couple of generously-sized leeks, and let them sit in the butter there over lowish heat while I peel and cut up potatoes (and try to keep JJ out of trouble). I love the buttery color of Yukon Golds. I fell out of reading Much Depends on Dinner as easily as I fell into it, but I was thinking about her chapter on butter while I cooked, and the multiple meanings of its color.

I put in the potatoes and enough chicken stock to cover, and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Out comes the immersion blender for a couple of whirls. I don't generally care if my soups are perfectly smooth; I like them to have some body. At this point the dish looks like mashed potatoes, not soup, so I taste it for salt and add either water or more chicken stock to thin it down, let it simmer a wee bit more, and that's that.

It was ready a few minutes after D and L got home from church. Simple, warm, yummy, and with plenty left over for me to take to work a couple of times this week, breaking me free of the sandwich rut I've grown to heartily resent over this long winter. A thousand times better than cracking open a can, and not all that much more work.

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