It was downright balmy here yesterday – 55 degrees. The kind of day that makes a body itchy to get out, get going, get things DONE!
Problem is, it’s too early to “get things done” if you’re talking about the garden. Can’t plant. Can’t prune. Can’t dig – or even weed for cryin’ out loud! So, what to do with all this pent-up winter energy?
Don’t laugh. Yes, I mean you.
Do. Not. Laugh.
I don’t mean that I spent the day scrubbing the shower or anything. More along the lines of sorting, organizing and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.
You’re laughing again.
By mid-afternoon, I had all of last year’s seed catalogs in the recycling bin, all the loose recipes floating around the office and kitchen were filed away, and the cookbooks were back on the shelf where they belong. I am pleased to report that my desk does still have an actual top, not just another layer of old garden magazines as I had feared.
After that, it was time to tackle the refrigerator.
I’d actually planned to do that even before getting bitten by the spring cleaning bug. I spent most of the week by myself – John having been called out of town for a few days – and saw no real reason to buy a lot of groceries when there was a fridge and pantry full of things that needed to be used up. The kids are all gone, or busy, so for what might be the first time in my life, I’ve been cooking for just me… And liking it!
As I plowed through the vegetable bins, discarding wilted celery, lemon halves, and several cut-up onions, my mind naturally turned to dinner. What was in here that would make a hearty, satisfying meal, without too much trouble?
And, there they were, hiding under the celery – Three big, fat leeks, bought some weeks back, and looking like they were just days away from that fine line that separates ‘supper’ from ‘compost’. Add to them some sprouty red potatoes from the dry-storage drawer, a little fresh thyme from the garden, and chicken stock, and we’re talkin’ dinner! Potato – Leek Soup!
This isn’t one of those all-day soups – it can be ready in under an hour if you’re a fast peeler-chopper. The only fiddly thing about it is cleaning the leeks. After cutting them, dunk them in a bowl of cold water and swish them around to loosen the grit. Drain them in a colander, and do it over again. Nothing ruins dinner like sand in your soup, trust me…
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot, and stir in the leeks. Put the lid on the pot, and let them ‘sweat’ over a medium-low flame for 5 -10 minutes. You want them to soften, but not brown.
Once the leeks are soft, add the potatoes, 3 cups of chicken broth, the thyme, and a little salt and pepper. If the broth doesn’t quite cover the potatoes, add a little water. Bring it up to a simmer, and put the lid back on.
Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
From here on out, how you finish it is entirely up to you. You can serve it as-is: a tasty broth with chunks of tender potatoes. You can puree it completely smooth for a refined ‘cream’ soup without the cream. Or, puree some, leave the rest chunky for a more rustic style. Chef’s choice! You can also thin it with a little milk or cream if you wish.
Hearty, filling, low-calorie, and oh-so-tasty. Could anyone ask for more?