Friday, February 17, 2012

Creamy Parsnip & Leek Soup

The last couple of weeks have really kicked my ass. Nothing terrible, just a lot of little things that added up to a whole lot of stress and not much cooking. I had the best intentions, cooking-wise, but often didn't feel up to making much of anything. Nonetheless, there were a couple of pretty wonderful meals in there, and this week has been MUCH better (though slow with the posting).

I continue to like Cook This Now, enough so that I bought a copy (I had it on loan from the library).

When I made this soup, I had a little jar with the pan juices from roasting a chicken - I used the (thick) layer of schmaltz that had solidified on top instead of the butter in the recipe and poured the rest into the soup with the chicken stock (... which was otherwise just water with "Better than Bouillon"). This isn't something I expect most people to just have sitting around in their fridges (I don't usually have chicken drippings, either), but it speaks to the kind of kitchen economy I try to practice: I didn't know what I'd do with the drippings, but since we ended up not wanting to make gravy with them, I also knew I didn't want to just toss them. And the next day, when I made this soup, I was grateful that I hadn't.

Creamy Parsnip and Leek Soup
adapted from Cook This Now

  • 4 Tbsp butter or what-have-you (I would have used bacon drippings here if I hadn't had the schmaltz; no reason not to use oil if you'd like to keep the recipe vegan)
  • 4 large leeks, trimmed of tough/dark green parts, carefully cleaned and sliced (the tough leaves are great to save for stock, though!)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, more or less
  • freshly ground black peper, to taste
  • 4 large celery stalks, sliced, with leaves if possible (keep the leaves separate)
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • bay leaf
  • parsley stems (totally optional)
  • generous 1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 1 qt chicken or veggie stock
  • 2 C water
  • a bit of fresh lemon juice (if needed for brightness)
Melt fat in your soup pot over medium heat. Saute leeks with salt & a little pepper until soft, about 5 min. Add celery and saute another 5 min or so until leeks are getting golden and celery is shiny.

Tie thyme, bay leaf, celery leaves and parsley stems (whichever combination of these things you have) together and add to the pot with the broth, water, parsnips, and potatoes. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Cook until veggies are nice and soft (20-45 min).

Discard the herb bundle and puree the soup, adding water if it's too thick, lemon juice if the flavor is flat, and more salt and/or pepper to taste.
serves 6

We had the soup with garlicky croutons as (more or less) per the recipe's suggestion:
  • thick slices hearty bread (we used whole wheat)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • drizzle of olive oil
Toast the bread. Meanwhile, cut a little cap off the end of the garlic. When the bread is toasted, rub it vigorously with the cut end of the garlic (which will kind of shred into the bread). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

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