It’s cold, even in California’s north San Francisco Bay area. Winter’s short days and long nights put my hubby and me into hibernation mode. We get sleepy almost as soon as the sun goes down (just before 5pm), so we don’t feel energetic enough to make complicated meals for dinner. So we’re making soup again! Hearty soups fill our tummies with warmth and nutrition without hours of cooking and clean up.
At Tai Chi class two weeks ago, our teacher was asking students to take home free potatoes that had been donated to the Senior Center where we meet. The director of the center didn’t want the produce to go bad over the winter holidays.
Potato Leek soup is a favorite flavor combo for many folks during cold weather. You can find numerous variations of this classic soup, including vegetarian & vegan recipes on line. (See RESOURCES)
Having recently read more about kale’s powerhouse nutritional benefits, we’re eating it often while it’s in peak season. Those of us who garden know cold temperatures and a light frost bring out a touch of sweetness to kale’s green flavor. Decided to add some color and extra nutrition to our soup by including my favorite ‘dinosaur’ kale as an ingredient. If you like lots of veggies in your soup…carrots, red peppers, and celery would be yummy, too.
The holiday season is an excellent time to try out new kitchen tools. I was eager to see how the new ‘Garlic Rocker,’ I had given my husband (our garlic chef), worked. After peeling the cloves, you simply press the sturdy, well-made rocker down over the garlic, rocking it back and forth until it meets the cutting board. Most of the garlic will be in the bowl of the Garlic Rocker. Carry the minced garlic over to the stove, scooping out garlic bits into whatever you’ve cooking. Little is left on the cutting board. No fuss, no muss, and no danger to fingertips from sharp knives. It’s a winner! And for $15 a real steal.
Winter celebrations are great occasions to try new foods and ingredients. My sister special-ordered a box of handcrafted Artisanal cheeses as a gift. We’ve been enjoying unwrapping the cheeses and savoring the flavors and textures, weight loss goals put aside for after the new year begins. These cheeses seem too special to cook with, but they are lovely with crackers or bread, if we have any in the house.
Vegetarian Potato Leek & Dinosaur Kale (Lacinat0, Italian Heirloom) Soup Recipe
INGREDIENTS (Choose organic ingredients):
~ Butter, 3 tablespoons
~ 3 Leeks, thinly sliced
~ 1 medium or large Onion, chopped
~ 3 large cloves Garlic, minced
~ 8 Potatoes, thinly sliced (any type)
~ 1 bunch of Dinosaur or Black Kale (Italian heirloom ‘Lacinato’), de-stemmed, sliced into strips
~ 1 Tablespoon quality extra virgin Olive Oil
~ 3-1/2 cups boiling filtered water (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
~ 2 large cubes of Rapunzel Vegan Bouillon Cubes with Sea Salt
~ 2-3 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
~ 1 cup heavy cream
~ Sea Salt or Eden Organic Sesame Seed Seaweed Gomasio, to taste
~ Fresh ground, Black or roasted Chipotle Pepper, to taste
1) Cut off leeks dark green tops / root base. Slice vertically and clean leeks well in a sink full of water. They often have dirt in their layers. Slice only the white and light green part of the leeks.
2) Wash potatoes thoroughly and remove blemishes / sprouting eyes before slicing into 1/8 inch rounds. Don’t peel. Most nutrition is right under the skin and the peels add heartiness to the soup’s texture.
3) Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onions and leeks. Turn up to medium. Cook, stirring, until leeks & onions are limp. Add minced garlic. Cook until just slightly brown.
4) Add sliced potatoes to saucepan. Pour in boiling water to barely cover the potatoes. Add 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon. Stir to melt.
5) You may add the kale to the soup pot now OR saute it in olive oil, until it’s tender. (Depending on how it’s been grown, kale can be a bit chewy at times.)
6) Continue cooking soup over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
7) Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. If you want a smooth creamy soup, use an immersion blender.
8) Add the sauteed kale strips and crushed rosemary leaves.
9) Add one cup of heavy cream (or more if you desire), salt and pepper to taste. Heat for a bit longer, but do not boil or cream may curdle.
10) Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with fresh herbs, green onions, diced sweet or spicy peppers, grated cheese, a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. Hot biscuits , rosemary crackers, or a chewy rustic bread, with artisanal cheeses and a green salad complete the meal.
SERVINGS: 6-8 generous soup bowls
K’s Potato Leek Soup (for prep photos, see: http://pinchmysalt.com/a-hearty-potato-leek-soup-recipe-for-the-last-days-of-winter/ )
Creamy Potato Leek Soup, vegan version ( http://www.care2.com/greenliving/creamy-potato-leek-soup-vegan.html#ixzz2GId1Hbap )
Crouching Garnish, Hidden SuperFood: The Secret Life of Kale ( http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/crouching-garnish-hidden-superfood-secret-life-kale )
Garlic Rocker, $15 ( https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/garlic-rocker )
Artisanal Cheeses ( http://www.artisanalcheese.com )
Rosemary Crackers ( http://www.rusticbakery.com )