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Slinging Soup

December 10, 2013

Soup season is here. Even down in Princeton it’s snowing. Finally, winter is beginning in earnest. As it turns out, Young Master Fussy loves soup. Just yesterday, I thinned out a bit of my chicken stock to make him a cup of clear broth (with some buttered toast on the side). This was the young man’s breakfast, and he was in heaven.

For weeks I’ve been staring down the remaining three pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes and a couple leftover leeks that were purchased as part of the Thanksgiving shopping. Perhaps there are other folks out there who would look at leeks and potatoes and see something else other than soup, but not me.

There was just one small problem. Well, maybe two.

For starters, I’m on a health kick. And most of the potato leek soups out there are full of cream. Not only does that not fit with my new and healthy lifestyle, but also a cream based soup would quite certainly be rejected by Mrs. Fussy.

That wasn’t too hard to solve. Chocolate & Zucchini had a recipe for a dairy free version of this classic soup.

Now all I needed was a hand blender.

I had one of these a long time ago. Man, that thing was a pain in the ass. I almost never used it, and when I used it it almost never worked. Cleaning it was a hassle too. Probably, I’m partially to blame since I opted for the more convenient (if less powerful) cordless variety.

In my defense, I don’t think the Internet was as evolved back then, so it wasn’t quite as easy to access all of Cook’s Illustrated’s recommendations.

These days, using my handy-dandy membership to the online version of the magazine, I found out that the Kitchen Aid KHB2351 was the hand blender of my dreams (based on their updated article published in September 2012).

Really, I should have bought the damn thing on Amazon and it would have been here already. But I had been dragging my feet, and my vegetables weren’t getting any younger. To make things worse, I don’t have a standard blender anymore either. We tossed our old one when leaving Albany and still haven’t found its replacement. And you can just forget about the notion of me putting hot soup into the plastic bowl of my Cuisinart food processor.

Then it dawned on me. This is an old recipe. Escoffier didn’t have an immersion blender. He probably just repeatedly pushed the vegetables through a fine mesh strainer or something. I could do that. Even with a cold.

And as long as I was throwing caution to the wind, I pretty much abandoned the Chocolate & Zucchini recipe and just did my own thing.

1) Cut four bacon strips into lardons and put ‘em in the soup pot
2) Render the fat, crisp the bacon, remove the bacon bits for later
3) While bacon is cooking, clean and thinly slice the whites of two large leeks
4) Pour a slug of expeller pressed safflower oil and an inch of organic butter in the pot
5) Melt the thinly cut leek whites in the fat with a pinch of salt
6) While the leeks are cooking peel 3# of Yukon Golds and cut ’em up into small bits
7) Throw ’em in the pot, add a pinch of salt, stir it up
8) Pour in six cups of cold clean water and bring to a boil with a bit more salt
9) Reduce to a simmer and after 30 minutes or so taste and correct for salt

If you wanted to have a rustic soup, that’s it. If you are smart and have a hand blender, go to town. If you want to ladle hot soup into a glass blender, feel free, just please be careful.

If you are like me, it’s time to break out a fine mesh strainer, and start pushing soft potatoes and leeks through its teeny tiny holes. The task is actually rather therapeutic. Maybe a bit meditative. But it works. It also makes you appreciate that chefs used to have large staffs to assist in their cooking projects.

This dish got sold to the kids as loaded potato soup. And it was served with shredded cheddar cheese on the side and a bowl of those reserved bacon bits. I was very tempted to put a dollop of sour cream on mine, but that would have been counterproductive.

While Little Miss Fussy was skeptical of the soup at first, she warmed up to it quickly. Young Master Fussy enjoyed it as expected, and even Mrs. Fussy made surprisingly enthusiastic noises.

Soup isn’t rocket science. Use enough salt. Build flavor as you go. Keep it simple (at least in the beginning). Get inspired by classic flavor pairings. Know your ingredients. And cook without fear.

Bad soup is still soup. When it’s cold outside, something hot and wet is sure to be a comfort.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Third Auntie permalink
    December 11, 2013 1:30 am

    Hmm, this is when a chinois would have been handy.
    (Thanks for the compliment about the dumpling restaurant.)

    • December 11, 2013 7:14 pm

      Thanks for spreading the word about the dumpling restaurant. It sounds amazing. Can’t wait to try it when I get back.

      Someone suggested that you get your own blog. If instead of that, you were ever interested in writing something longform on the FLB, I would be happy to host your prose.

  2. Deedee permalink
    December 20, 2013 5:21 pm

    You could consider using a food mill. Mine has a choice of 3 disks for fine to coarse and works very nicely with hot foods.

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