Friday, August 7, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

This is a crock pot soup I like to make. It's pretty easy and very tasty. Traditionally, potato leek soups usually contain heavy cream, or other rich dairy products. My recipe uses nonfat plain yogurt. Note, usually when I write recipes, I say how the vegetables should be prepared in the ingredients list (such as one onion, minced), but since those instructions are a little more involved in this recipe, I have included them in the directions.

Potato Leek Soup, four to six servings

2 leeks
6 Yukon Gold potatoes
5 small/med cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth (I use low sodium)
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dried rosemary leaves, chopped
1 pinch thyme powder

1. Cut off dark part and ends of leeks. Halve lengthwise, washing off any dirt on or in the leeks. 2. Chop off about 1/2 inch off of light green part of each leek and reserve. Slice the rest of the leeks into thin half-rings (I used the slicer blade on my food processor).
3. On medium-low, heat pan, and then add butter and olive oil. Once melted, add leeks, sprinkle with pinch of salt, and allow to sweat for about 5 minutes. While leeks are sweating, you can do the following:
4. Smash garlic cloves and cut off hard tips.
5. Chop garlic and reserved leeks in food processor until very fine.
6. Add garlic and leek to pan and allow to heat through for about 1 minute, then mix into rest of leek mixture. Allow leeks/garlic to continue cooking until translucent and tender. While this is cooking:
7. Peel 3 out of the 6 potatoes. Cut all potatoes into varying sizes of cubes, ranging from 1/4 inch to 1 inch.
8. Add leeks and potatoes to crock pot, adding chicken broth, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
9. Cook on high for 1 hour or until potato chunks can be cut with edge of spoon. Take a potato masher and mash some of the soup, leaving some chunks. Stir to combine newly smashed potato parts with chunks.
10. Turn crock pot down to low. Add yogurt. The yogurt can leave some small white specks in the soup. If you don't want this, push yogurt through a fine mesh colander to smooth out lumps before adding to soup. Allow soup to cook for at least 10 more minutes, or until ready to serve.

If you prefer a more vichyssoise-style soup/you want to eat it cold, you can blend the soup with a hand blender or put it in a food processor before chilling. I find that with the smaller amount of dairy and using yogurt instead of heavy cream, the soup isn't nearly as heavy and filling. Living in Texas, that's definitely a plus in the summer. Leaving some of the potato skins on also adds fiber and some nutrients to the soup. So, this is a healthier alternative to the usual potato leek soup.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Julie and Julia

So, there's a big buzz about the new movie Julie and Julia. This weekend on PBS, as part of their pledge drive, they were showing classic episodes of Julia Child's original cooking show, The French Chef. They interviewed Nora Ephron, which I thought was weird, until I remembered that she directed the movie. I never really heard of Julia Powell until this movie came out. I don't actually read too many food blogs because they rarely allow full posts to show up in feed readers and I'm picky about being able to do that. Anyway, while I'm sure Julia Powell is a great person, but I'm just not super interested in her story. I am, however, interested in Julia Child. She had a really unique, interesting life, and I think a movie just about Child would have been more than appropriate. Meryll Streep seems like a great choice to play her, and could have carried the movie herself. The Nora Ephron treatment is something I'm also unsure about, so I probably won't be seeing the movie, certainly not in the theater.

As for cooking, I made my first meal since moving this weekend. Shoulder chuck roast with onions, Yukon Gold potatoes, and carrots. Made a marinade/sauce from red wine, balsamic vinegar, salt, my "Garlic Pepper and Spices" mix from the Garlic Survival Kit, onion powder, and powdered thyme. Marinated the roast for maybe half an hour while cooking down the onions in cast iron pan. Somehow, having owned my food processor since Christmas 2006, I didn't realize that I had a slicer insert! I used it to slice my onions (cutting the onions in half first) and it was so much easier than spending an eye-burning time with a knife and cutting board. Hooray! I cooked the roast in my crock pot with some chicken stock, because it always turns out tender and is a total no-brainer to make. It turned out pretty good!