Tuesday, December 7, 2010

French Friday with Dorie: Leek and Potato Soup, Smooth or Chunky, Hot or Cold

My Bowl of Leek and Potato Soup Garnished with Cheese and Fresh Parsley
This week we have a house guest from Singapore who is accustomed to eating only Chinese food every day. I love americanized Chinese food and would gladly cook it for him, however, one of the fun things about staying with other people is attempting to fit into their culture and trying new things, including new foods.  I decided  to prepare an “assignment” from Dorie, thinking that telling him about our Dorie-food-blogging-group would also be a fun topic of conversation.  I know that he eats very little sweets, in fact, fruit is a dessert. And, with all my family daily drop-ins, it is nice to have a pot of soup in the fridge for any hungry bodies.  I chose to make the Leek and Potato Soup which would have no strong flavors for our guest to get used to, and yet it would stretch him culturally...potatoes instead of rice; such a new concept for many.    With potatoes, butter, and milk even a simple soup would be that stretch for him.  I doubled the recipe and found a few mix-ins  that added color and brought interesting flavors to the pot.
Onions and Garlic Added to Melted Butter
Our sunny AZ temperatures kissed 80^ today, so I felt like visiting my garden for some fresh herbs...and I  found, instead, some very appealing, exceptionally flavorful, small, sweet red peppers.  I decided on the peppers instead of the herbs, as the herbs might take some getting used to for our guest (some o f  my kids can taste each one I add to a recipe), and I decided to add just a little parsley as a garnish.
While the Potatoes Simmer I will Ready My Additions

 Leeks Sauteed in Butter Before Adding to Soup

Sweet Red Peppers from my Garden

Looks Like Christmas with the Addition of Red Peppers to the Leeks
With Christmas music in the background, I first sauteed, in butter, diced onion with minced garlic until they sparkled.  The aroma quickly filled the house and excited me to continue (before Dorie, I would have  used olive oil, not butter).  I chose a tasty chicken stock and whole milk  over water which I added with my diced potatoes to the onion mixture.  While that was heating, I  sauteed leeks, and added my minced red garden peppers, and the color was beautiful...just like Christmas.  Then I found some ham that just begged to be used.  While the soup gently simmered, hubby and I untangled Christmas lights and put up a few strands decorating the front of our house...we are the last ones on our street to get our lights up this year...Did all of you cyber friends get your lights up almost before the Thanksgiving turkey was cleaned up and the dishes were done?  I am still wondering what happened to Thanksgiving this year.  With Black Friday beginning on Thanksgiving afternoon and continuing through the following week, and with all the neighborhood getting their decorations up on Thanksgiving afternoon...well, I feel like I was cheated out of a portion of that very special day.
I Used the End from our Thanksgiving Spiral Cut Ham

Diced Ham Added to Leeks and Red Peppers
One of my daughters dropped in and asked for a cheese garnish.  With that in mind, I just could not help myself from adding about a pound of grated cheese to my soup....who am I to argue with a cheese suggestion?  Cheese is almost up there with chocolate (well, not really).  Between the two of them, they can fit into just about any common recipe.  I had thought about putting my add-ins into separate little bowls on the table so each person could choose their own garnish, but they kept jumping into the pot, just like magic.

A Pound of Grated Cheese
By now the whole house is really smelling great and hubby cannot refrain from stirring my soup...and, he is extremely interested in what I am cooking as our guest is his very special friend...and Hubby worries that he should go out and find some Chinese food to please his guest...but I am not concerned.  The soup is beautiful, the aroma that fills my house is delicious, the Christmas decorations are getting up, the house is clean, and a batch of freshly baked cookies is on the table...if our guest does not need sweets, by this point, I do! 

Hubby Can't Resist Stirring the Pot as the Cheese Continues to Melt into the Broth
It was all quite irresistible.  Hubby could not wait. All that pot stirring was more than he could take.   I had planned to make the croutons and  some dinner rolls, and I thought about picking some fresh chives to snip as a garnish.  But he was starving and just had to eat.   The verdict: He loved the soup! especially with all my add-ins.

Well, gotta go...our guest has just arrived.  Talk to you all again next week.  Happy Holidays!

NOTE:  I was sidetracked a bit during this cooking experience...the Cub Scouts came to the door, singing Christmas Carols with gusto, and then asked me for a can of soup for their charitable food drive.  I went to the pantry and dug out every can of soup I could find...and there were many...and gave the scouts every can.  No more canned soup in this house.  There are too many easy and wonderful soups that can be cooked with very little effort...and I always have ingredients needing to be used.  The flavor of this wonderful soup and last weeks "Daube", and my use-up-the-turkey-noodle-soup from about a week ago have all convinced me that I will never again buy a can of soup.  Period!



  1. I love the type of dishes that you start and then keep finding things to add! This seems just perfect for ham I may have to do the same...if I can just find the time before Friday! This project certainly makes these weeks just fly by!
    Great soup!

  2. thanks for your comment on my speculoos!

    Your soup looks great, I always over puree mine.....lucky you to have a garden in winter and fresh herbs!!!

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

    I love your Christmasy soup! So I'm curious, did your Singapore guest like the soup? Singapore is a cosmopolitan country so I'm surprised at your guest's preference, LOL!

  4. I like your ham and bell pepper additions. I was thinking about adding pancetta or bacon to my soup when I make it later this month!

  5. Oh my, your soup looks fantastic!! Your house guest is a lucky guy. It's great you took the time to treat him to something different for him.

  6. I love your soup story! You must tell us how your guest liked it? I'm looking forward to trying out this recipe...good to know it's flexible to add in fun ingredients.

  7. I absolutely adore how you follow your inspiration and re-imagine the recipe. And here I thought I was a rebel for cutting my leeks the wrong way!
    You rock!

  8. Fabulous looking soup - this one is still on my "to do" list.

  9. Thanks for posting all your additions...the peppers, the ham, the cheese - looks wonderful! I haven't made this yet but I want to try your variation sometime. Pretty colors, too :)

  10. Well ur sure having a sunny holiday and i am too!
    I have Christmas music all the time in my kitchen too and totally love the holiday vibe!
    Deliciously delightful!

  11. I love your finished product. The non-blended, pepper spiked soup looks very attractive. Photographing my blended blah-colored was not as attractive. The taste was great though. I love yours.

  12. Very creative cooking! You make cooking so fun!

  13. Love the red peppers! Congrats on the soon to come new grandbaby...have a terrific trip up north!

  14. Wow! Lots of great ideas for how to take Dorie's recipe as a base and make something entirely different. It looks very good... might have to try the soup myself for next Friday's posting!

  15. Sounds like you have a lot going on, but you managed to make a marvelous dinner for your guest and family. I love your additions.

  16. Wow- this was on my to do list for FFWD but I have to say that yours looks absolutely amazing. I was already looking forward to trying this recipe but now I am REALLY excited. Also loved the photo on the tartan cloth - really so festive. I also have to say that your inspiration shot of the bookcase gave me a HUGE smile. It makes me happy to just think of it and a big cup of coffee......

  17. Yay! Isn't it great when you have those a ha moments in the kitchen? I remember when I discovered how to make salad dressing. I don't think I've bought a bottle of salad dressing in 12 years.