Friday, January 22, 2010

Soup-er Suppers

First an apology. We're having trouble loading our post so I'm trying it without the pictures to see if that works. Hopefully we'll get this resolved soon. In the meantime, use your imagination.

Janet here: Part of what I want from a meal in winter is comfort. The weather is generally dreary and when I come in the door after work, I want warmth — literally and figuratively. I want a fire roaring in the fireplace and I want to create a warm feeling for my family by the food I cook. It's a tall order I know but if I can make it happen even one day a week, I'm happy.

For me, soup figures large in this elusive formula. I'm not sure why really. It's not as if I grew up on homemade soups. But for some reason slurping on soup just makes me feel cozy, and potato leek soup makes me feel coziest of all. Here's hoping it makes you feel the same with the people you love. I plan to serve mine on a busy night this week when both my husband and I have to go out again after work to various functions. I will probably add grilled cheese on some good bread and maybe if I'm feeling really ambitious, a salad. It's a hearty meal for a cold winter's night, which is what every night is like here in the Northeast where I live until, oh, April ... if we're lucky.

Potato and Leek Soup
serves 4-5

2 tablespoons butter
3 medium leeks, well cleaned and diced--not the green part
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 large Russet potatoes, cubed (I leave the skin on because that's where a lot of the nutrients and fiber are but you can skin if you prefer)
32 oz. vegetable broth (yes you can make your own but I'm a working mother so I use Trader Joe's hearty organic vegetable broth. If you make your own, you are an instant cooking goddess in my book.)
milk (amount to be determined by how soupy you like your soup)
salt, pepper and chives to taste

Melt the butter and saute the leeks and onion until translucent in a large pot. Once done, add the potato cubes and the vegetable broth. Simmer until the potatoes are done. Let cool and then throw into the blender. You'll have to do it in bunches because it won't all fit. Then add some milk to get it to the consistency you like (add a little at a time so you don't overdo it and end up with milk soup) and voila! Fabulous hearty soup. Try adding some chives and grated cheese on top right before serving.

Rachel here: So, I want to go have dinner at my mom's house because potato leek soup is one of the better things in life, I think. When she told me she was making it I decided to try to make a soup that got me just as excited. And so, for the first time ever, I made french onion soup. It seemed so warm and sweet and tangy when I thought of it. Plus, I had seen a recipe in Real Simple magazine a few months back and the picture that accompanied the recipe made my mouth water every time I turned to that page. The end product, while totally satisfactory, was a soup that both my partner and I felt was missing a certain something. We're not sure what it is, but we both felt that this recipe was a little too basic tasting. We suspect the issue could be with the store-bought broth (since we are definitely make-your-own-stock people...alas, the move...and, as an aside, if you save those chicken bones from my mom's chicken salad she posted the other day you're on your way to making your own delicious reserve of chicken stock!) It was, however, a vehicle for toasted bread with cheese and so, dutifully, we each devoured our bowls. Anyway, if you have your own french onion soup recipe that you think hits the nail on the head, or if you've tried this one and have similar sentiments about it, I'd love to hear from you!

serves 4

3 T. unsalted butter
2 lbs. onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1/2 c. dry white wine (somewhere I saw a recipe that called for cognac...anybody ever tried this?)
1 c. low-sodium beef broth
4 1/2 inch-thick slices of country bread, cut to fit across serving bowls
1 c. grated Swiss cheese
1/2 T. fresh thyme

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the onions, 2/3 tspn. salt and a dash of fresh pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the onions are golden brown. This will take a while (at least 30-40 minutes) and you should stir the onions occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot when you do to get the fullest possible flavor.

Add the wine and cook until slightly reduced (about 2 minutes). Next, add the broth and 3 c. of water and bring this to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the broiler. Broil the bread until each side is golden brown (1-2 minutes or so per side). Remove, sprinkle with cheese, and place back in broiler to melt.

Pour soup into bowls, top with bread and add a sprinkle of thyme. You will be warm and toasty in a no time.

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