Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day!

See what I woke up to today? Well, technically, I didn't wake up to it--the vast majority of it has fallen since I've been awake. And it's not stopped falling. If you can't see clearly and don't wish to click on and embiggen, that ruler is stuck in snow up to the 3. As in 3 inches of snow. Or, for our Metric Friends:

8cm. Oh, how it sucks to be me today!

Of course, it's very pretty. And I really have nowhere else to be, so I suppose I can just enjoy the show. And yes, we are aware that evergreen is very shaggy. It's in too shady of a spot. We're thinking about removing it and sending it on to its next life as a bag of chips or mulch this spring. I won't miss it much, that's the tree under which the Evil Raccons shelter in summer.

Anyway, as I've no call to be out in this mess, I'm sitting at my desk, enjoying a bowl of last night's soup (cream of leek and potato, modified, recipe below) and thinking about working on some of my personal projects today. I will have to do some writing--I made a promise to my writing partner that I would--and then I will have to do some knitting. There's really nothing better on a nasty snowy day than a comfy chair, some nice warm lap rugs and knitting. My God, it's as if I've gone to heaven!

Anyway, if you are curious, here's my recipe for the Cream of Leek and Potato Soup. I got the original recipe from a book called Good & Garlicky, Thick & Hearty, Soul-Satisfying More Than Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook by Joe Famularo, which is a very good book full of dozens of recipes I've got flagged for the trying. If you can get a copy (the soft cover is available for a pinchy price of nearly $50), the original recipe is on page 253. Here is my version:

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (I checked the weight after peeling/removing black or green spots) (I should note he does not specify the style of potatoes used, I just like goldies for the flavor and the fact they hold their shape better in soups past the first day--a key feature for the way I do soup)

5 large leeks, white and some of the lighter green, well rinsed and cut into rings (or half rings, much easier to get the sand out that way)

1 10 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach

roughly 3 cups ham, diced up (if you've got the bone, toss it in for the initial boil; alas, I got to the hock too late and the bone was no more)

salt, to taste

water to just cover all the bits in the pot.

This part of the soup goes into a big (very, very big) soup pot (I use my mother's steel 1950's soup pot--I could boil a whole sheep in it if I wanted) and bring to a boil. Note this will take way the heck longer than you think. Mine took almost an hour to come to a very reluctant bubble, but that may be a feature of the pot more than anything else. Shake in a bit of salt; even with the ham, you will need it. Reduce heat to a simmer (good luck! Inertia also works in regards to heat of water. Again, this could be a feature of my stove/pot.) Cover and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Watch the potatoes, they can either fall apart in 15 minutes or be reluctant to take the fork in 40. It all depends on the type you use. Overall, though, I'd have to say this is a very forgiving recipe, in that I ended up not quite hitting a boil and simmering my soup for over an hour. Still works, though.

At this point, I took a full blender carafe's worth of the veggie matter (trying to avoid the ham) and pureed it. I poured it back into the pot, which turned the soup the most delightful green. Now you need:

1/2 stick of butter (or a little more, if you like it sweet. I come from the Paula Deen School of Cooking Rules, and it says more butter is better. Don't go over 3/4 a stick though. You'll regret that.)

1/2 cup half and half (or whole or 2% milk, if you prefer, just don't do skim. It won't work.)

Add to the soup and let melt and moosh together. Serve, preferably with nice hot rolls or bread. Maybe even a beer, or a light white wine. It refrigerates very well (at least on day one), and the flavors tend to mellow second day. If it gets manky over the course of the week I'm going to be enjoying it (I've got more than enough left over to eat on this for over a month), I'll let you know.

I was particularly concerned with the bitterness of the spinach--I love spinach; the bitterness is quite redolent of good, old fashioned greens (in the soul food style)--but my family, who do not share my palate, didn't seem to mind. Maybe I'll try this in future with a milder green, like romaine or perhaps Chinese celery (I love celery, particularly the leaves), just to see if they prefer it that way. I think it might also bring out the sweetness of the leeks and butter if I use the celery instead.

Mmmmm. Celery in my soup. That thought particularly makes me happy!


Marigold said...

I was wondering how much snow y'all would get. We had about 3-4 inches from that same system. And that soup sounds so yummy....i have leeks. hmm...

Silver Phoenix said...

Go for it--it took me three trips to three different stores to find both leeks and potatoes (yukis) at one store this time of year. If you've got the tools....

We're still getting some flakes. You's guys?