It has been almost a year since I started this rubric and I have not yet written about soups, even though they are the staple of our winter dinners: A soup and a fruit and we can go to bed satisfied, ready to hear the wind howling through the trees, and the rain – or sleet – pounding the skylights.
You can make soups out of anything. One of my favorites when I was a child was “Soupe au Lait”, a concoction my mother created, or not, with sweetened hot whole milk and old bread cubes swimming in it. The secret was to have the crust of the bread cubes still crunchy while the rest of them was soft and mushy (which means that you had to eat – or slurp – the soup right away, as soon as it was poured in your bowl). It delighted our winter evenings and if it was followed with crêpes filled with sugar or jam, we were in heaven.
Any leftovers of the vegetables I steam for lunch will end up being a soup for future evenings, and in the winter, my blender is my best friend, but my husband’s favorite being the leek and potato soup and both vegetables easy to find in cold weather, they make a perfect winter soup.
Leek and Potato Soup Recipe
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 chopped onion, any color
- 2 grated garlic cloves
- 3 leeks white and light green parts only, thoroughly washed and thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 celery stalks, washed and thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 peeled medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced.
- 8 cups vegetable stock (more or less, depending on how thick you want your soup to be)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped chives to decorate your bowl of hot soup, just before eating it Optional
- Home-made croutons
- 1 loaf of French baguette, preferably sourdough, old or fresh (old is easier to slice).
- 2 tbsp regular oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- sprinkle of curry powder Optional
- Soften the onion and garlic in oil until light and translucent.
- Add leeks, potatoes and celery and simmer covered for a few minutes, then add the vegetable stock and salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it cook with a soft boil, covered, for 20 minutes or until all the ingredients are just soft enough when pierced with a knife. Do not overcook!
- Allow to cool down before puréeing in blender.
- Note: I always make my soups either the day before or at least in the morning for an evening serving: It allows all the flavors to blend together and gives me the time to adjust the seasoning.
- It is an inexpensive, quick, easy and elegant soup to make and it has, at the end, a beautiful light green color and a wonderful aroma. Sit yourself in front of the fireplace, close your eyes and you will forget, with the first spoonful, that spring is still unimaginable.
- Note: Don’t throw away the leeks darker leaves: Keep them refrigerated until you are ready to make your next vegetable bouillon: They will add a great taste to your stock!
Home-made Croutons Instructions
- Cut the bread into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes. Pour the cubes in a big bowl. Sprinkle the oil on top and shake the bowl gently up and down in a rolling motion for one minute so that the oil reaches all the cubes.
- Place the cubes on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil in a 225 degree F. oven for 1 1/2 hours or until they are very crisp and golden. Season with salt and pepper to taste and curry powder if desired.
- Note: Croutons don’t need to be refrigerated and will keep for a week or so if kept in a closed container.
I keep the green parts of the leeks, chiffonade them, and saute in butter. They are tender and delicious and could not be an easier side dish to prepare!