Monday, October 25, 2010

Leek Soup-Purée

Leeks are great. Let me explain why. First - the taste; it's sweet, with light onion aroma and gentle spice. It adds dimension and depth to dishes without being overpowering. Second - the color; it's a mix of vibrant greens, yellows and whites that becomes even more verdant when heated. Finally, the onion's texture is truly wonderful. It can be crunchy, silky, or disappear all together blending with the main dish.

Leeks are fantastic in soups, in pies or sauteed to accompany fish or meats. Another plus is that leeks are available pretty much all year round. Early autumn being the best time to get them. I came across a fresh bunch of young leeks in my local vegetable shop just recently. These were grown in Guatemala and were much thinner than your usual leeks. Actually they looked more like thick scallions. Whether they were just young or a different type, they had gentler flesh and a wonderful subtle sweet flavor with with just the right amount of bite.

The verdict - a season appropriate soup-purée. Extremely easy to make and tasty as hell. Here's the recipe as interpreted by Julia:

What you need:
1. A nice bunch of leeks, about a pound. If of a regular thick kind, you'll need 3-4 stalks. If a younger thinner kind you'll be OK with 8. Of course depending on your taste preference, you can make it more or less "oniony". In either case pick firm, compact stalks with bright white roots and green un-wilted ends.
2. A cup of cubed carrot (half of a large carrot)
3. Two large potatoes
4. 3 Tbs of olive oil
5. 4-5 cups of water ( enough to cover the potatoes in a pot)
6. Coarse Kosher salt, crushed black pepper, whole white and black peppercorns, mustard seed, coriander seed and crushed bay leaf to taste.

In a large pot bring water to a boil and add cubed potatoes. Place whole spices in a canvas spice bag and place in the pot.

Clean leeks. If necessary, remove the top dead layer and trim the top edges. Cut the stalks lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Cut the leeks in pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Transfer cut leeks in a bowl, add a pinch of coarse salt and squeeze lightly with your hands to release the juice. Let stand for a minute. Heat about 2 table spoons of olive oil in a large pan and saute the leeks until bright green, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and salt and crushed black pepper to taste and saute until carrots start to soften.

Check the potatoes, they should be almost done. Add leeks and carrots. Return the pot to heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and remove the spice bag. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Sieve the stock and reserve.

Carefully puree vegetable mixture in the processor in small batches, adding reserved stock to control thickness. Ideal puree shoudl be not too thick, silky and viscous. Transfer the puree back into the pot and return to heat. Add salt, adjust for spices and bring to a boil while stirring. As soon as it boils turn the heat off.

Plate, drizzle with some olive oil and serve with a slice of crusty rustic bread. For extra kick I like to butter the bread and toast it untill just golden brown.

No comments:

Post a Comment