Tag Archives: butter

Soup #13: Leek and New Potato Soup with Calçots

We’re back! We took the school year off because it was impossible to find a night on which we could regularly make a new soup. However, first grade and preschool ends for the kids on Friday, and our evenings have opened up. I turned to the bookmarked page and found “Leek and New Potato Soup with Calçots.” We actually had potato leek soup fairly recently from a vegetarian crock pot cookbook. This soup is a little different. First of all, it calls for calçots, which I’d never heard of. I read an interesting article about the Calçotada Festival in Valls, Spain, in which people grill and eat hundreds of pounds of calçots.

I, on the other hand, didn’t even call around to see if there were any calçots to be had. The cookbook said that red salad onions are a good alternative, so I bought a red onion. I had to do some further research to figure out what black onion seeds are (no relation to onions whatsoever), but once I figured out that they’re used in Indian food, I knew I could get them at Krishna Groceries down the street.

This soup wasn’t too time-consuming, actually. I chopped leeks and cooked them in butter as instructed. However, there I met my first recipe frustration: the instructions said to melt half the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks and cook for a few minutes until they soften. But it never said what to do with the other half of the butter. I read it three times, but it truly wasn’t there. I guess less butter is okay. I bought new potatoes in all different colors; it was fun to cut the purple ones in half and admire their vibrant hue. The soup came together pretty easily; the potatoes and leeks simmered in soy milk, black onion seeds, and lemon zest for a while and then got pureéd in the blender.

Chopped raw new potatoes.

Sauteeing leeks.

The recipe wanted me to cook calçot onions on the side, and there I discovered the second recipe frustration; it didn’t say how to handle the red onion I was allowed to substitute. Since it said that the calçots were going to be soft and slightly caramelized, I cut the onion into chunks and sauteéd it in olive oil until it was soft and slightly caramelized. Benjamin, who was helping me, sat on the counter and ate chunks of raw onion until his eyes got all red and puffy. He washed it down with milk.

Eating raw onions.

The soup was different from other potato soups I’ve had. It turned a greenish gray because of the different colors of potatoes, and the lemon zest came through. It was pretty bland, though the onions and some salt helped a lot. I liked it, but then I tend to like vegetables cooked any way. Dave didn’t mind it, Benjamin only ate a bite, and Phoebe wasn’t feeling well, so she skipped dinner.

Onions and apples for pie.

Finished soup.

It was a rainy, chilly evening, so I offered to make chocolate-chip cookies. No takers. But Benjamin said he wanted pie, and I happened to have enough apples, so we made an apple pie while we worked on the soup. The kitchen was a mess, but it’s so great to have hot food on a cool night. Phoebe roused herself from the couch to do the latticework on the pie.

Stirring pie dough.

Apple pie.

Soup #12: Celeriac Mimosa

We’ve moved sections in the cookbook from “Quick Fixes” to “Roots and Tubers.” The ladies write: “Just when we thought we had our five-a-day sorted, we discover that we’re supposed to try and eat nine portions of fruit and veg every day!” Dave is less than thrilled at the change.

Once again, we ate this so long ago, I have no memory of making it. I do remember liking it quite a lot, myself, and for some reason I have the vague feeling that no one else tried it. How did they get away with that? Another photo from the book:

Celeriac mimosa photo from the cookbook.

Soup #6: Cauliflower Soup with Dukkah

Jess: This soup looks suspicious in the photo. It’s white! Kind of like clam chowder, but smooth, and clearly thinner. There are hardly any ingredients, but one important one, dukkah, turned out to be a challenge. I bought a head of cauliflower and a box of almond milk—I already had sesame oil and a lemon. I looked up where to get dukkah, a spice mixture featuring hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, and paprika, and found it on Amazon, but it was $18 for 4 ounces. I tried a few local shops, including Trader Joe’s, because their website mentioned it. No luck. I eventually decided the cost had to be borne as part of this experiment.

Today’s Thursday; we didn’t have anything planned after work, so we all met at the coffee shop and played games before dinner. Benjamin is getting really good at matching Zingo tiles! When we got home, I chopped up the cauliflower, cooked it for a little while, added dukkah, and then turned it into soup by adding the unsweetened almond milk. It smelled good to me, but then, I like almost all vegetables. Dave and the kids husked and boiled the first corn of the season to eat with the soup. When we were almost ready to eat, I put half the soup into the blender, as instructed. Dave had walked by and suggested that we should eat it unblended, so I agreed to blend only half. And good thing! As the soup whizzed around, the plastic cork (for want of a better word) that allows you to put food into the blender through the lid fell into the soup. And got sucked into the blades, which made an awful sound chopping it up. I think the rubber lid had expanded because I’ve been blending hot soup.

CIMG2071

CIMG2078

That batch was inedible, so we ended up eating the soup the way Dave wanted to try it. Result? I think it would’ve been more delicious at the blended consistency. As it was, the almond milk was too wet. The cauliflower was tasty, and the dukkah was wonderful: salty, nutty, and full of spices. The recipe said to use a lemon, sesame oil, winter savory herb, and more dukkah to garnish. I set out bottled lemon juice, sesame oil, ground savory, and the bag of dukkah.

CIMG2075

Recipe frustration? Or just Ugly Americanism? The recipe says “winter savory herb, to garnish (optional).” I would’ve liked to garnish, but I kept thinking “which herb? Is it my choice?” Only after I looked it up did I figure out that savory is the name of an herb. And that there are varieties. King Soopers doesn’t stock it, so I bought a bottle of ground savory and figured I was covered.

This is a very fast recipe, which is a point in its favor. No one else in the family will want to eat it again, but I love vegetables and would be happy to spend my retirement, long after the kids have moved out, cooking and eating like this.

Soup #3: Watercress Soup with Crab Toasts

Phoebe:it wos dscusdeg

Jess: This was the soup I’d been waiting for, after browsing quickly through my new book on Mother’s Day. It was bright green and was supposed to be served with crab paté. I suspected the family wouldn’t be too excited about the color or the watercress—as you see above, I was right.

Fortunately I had read far enough ahead to make a shopping list, so I bought a whole chicken at King Soopers. This soup calls for a quart of chicken broth, and I didn’t think I had that much in the freezer. Tuesday night I stuck the chicken (still a bit frozen) into the crock pot I got for my wedding from Aunt Nancy’s stuffed tiger, Hermetroid. (It might be better not to ask.) I added a carrot, a stalk of celery, and half an onion. I learned somewhere along the line that you want to include the onion skin when you make chicken stock, since it helps dye the stock yellow. After 45 minutes of simmering away, some of the innards had floated out of the chicken; I hadn’t been able to get them out while it was partially frozen. I left the chicken out to cool for 20 minutes while the stock bubbled. I pulled the meat off the chicken, stored it in a Tupperware, and put the carcass back into the pot. I let it simmer for a while longer and then turned off the heat; it would cool down overnight. Wednesday morning I set aside a quart of stock and then bagged up the rest to freeze in 2-cup increments.

The recipe called for crab paté, which is obviously something people buy in little jars in England. I chose a recipe online called Karen’s Life-of-the-Party Crab Paté. Later in the week I realized that the Life of the Party was supposed to set up over several hours, so it wouldn’t work all that well to put the whole meal together Thursday night, as I’d been planning. Instead, we ordered some pizza and watched Nova. Thursday night I put together the paté, a somewhat disgusting-looking blend of cream cheese, condiments, and (in my case, not Karen’s) imitation crab flakes. You had to knead this concoction, ball it onto a plate, and let it sit while you mixed together a coating of butter, milk, and Knox gelatin. That liquid was then drizzled over the paté ball, where it immediately hardened, sort of like Smucker’s Magic Shell. Back into the fridge to sit overnight. I also baked some lemon squares, in case we had to turn to those for sustenance.

King Soopers hadn’t stocked watercress, so I’d stopped at Sprouts on Thursday to get some. (How do people make tea sandwiches?) It turned out that Sprouts actually had Upland Cress (isn’t that a Billy Joel song?), so I investigated. The Great Google said that the two were very similar, down to the fresh, peppery taste. That sounded quite good.

CIMG2004

The soup itself was pretty easy to make. You sauté onion and potato in butter and then simmer them in the chicken stock.

CIMG2003

CIMG2005

In the meantime, you pick the watercress leaves from the stems. That part was fussy and felt like it took forever. Dave pitched in at the end, which sped it up a bit. You simmer the watercress stems in the broth and then take everything off the heat to add the watercress leaves.

CIMG2006

It all goes immediately into the blender to produce a vivid green broth. Mine was a more electric green than the photo in the book, which was fairly exciting, considering how shocking the photo looks.

CIMG2010

I poured the soup into Pyrex ramekins so we’d be able to admire it while we ate. I served the lumpy, glistening crab paté with the leftover Viva crackers from last week.

CIMG2007

The soup tasted exactly like chicken stock, though it had a bit more body. I didn’t get a sense of the peppery herbs. It was enlivened by salt and pepper, but not much. It was still brighter in hue than flavor. Benjamin ate two bowls and about six servings of paté. Phoebe ate an obligatory spoonful and switched to Cup-a-Soup. As far as the paté goes, while I found the mixed-in condiments and the chunks of crab tasty, the cream cheese ruined the whole thing. Dave was ambivalent, leaning slightly toward “ick.” We all agreed not to have this one again. It did make me feel terribly British!

CIMG2012

Soup #1: Caldo Verde

Phoebe:  I  thenk  It kode uos a lattle more flavred broth. acsapd that its dleshes.

Jess: This soup features kale, potatoes, and Spanish chorizo. I had to ask The Great Google where to find Spanish chorizo; I should’ve known I could get it at Whole Foods. We postponed our first attempt on Friday night when we realized it was the first Art Night Out of the season; we ate food truck hot dogs instead while listening to a band in Lafayette’s festival square. This wasn’t a particularly difficult soup to prepare; of course you could use boxed chicken stock, but I was lucky to have homemade stock in the freezer. The recipe said it serves 2, so I doubled it, except that I’d bought only one leek. I also couldn’t find tomato puree at the store, so I followed some Internet instructions to create it using 2 Tablespoons tomato paste to 1 cup of water. (The recipe only calls for 1/2 Tablespoon tomato puree.) It smelled good right away from the onions and garlic cooking gently in butter and olive oil. By dinnertime, the house smelled like frying chorizo. The soup turned out to be even better than I expected. It was full of complex flavors, and despite what Phoebe says above, I thought the watery broth held its own. The chorizo added some welcome saltiness, and the potatoes gave it some substance. Even Dave, who doesn’t like kale and would’ve liked it chopped up even finer, said he’d eat this again. Benjamin eats everything in great quantities right now, and he asked for a second bowl.

I’m such a novice at this food blogging stuff, I forgot to take photos of our home cooking. You’ll have to wait until next time for a visual.