I got off the Bolt Bus (which receives my hearty endorsement) at around 3 pm on Sunday. It was grey and rainy and windy, and I had no idea what to cook. All I knew was that I needed some serious soul-warming.
I hit the damp remnants of the farmer’s market about 15 minutes later to see what I could scrape together. I saw leeks and immediately thought of soup. I grabbed a few, some potatoes, some carrots, some parsnips, and a pint of heavy cream, and I was ready to make some industrial strength comfort food.
Soup, really, is a free for all. “Saute, boil, season, garnish” is pretty much the whole recipe. I had two secret weapons at my disposal here: leeks, which make for a more intricately flavored soup than just onions, and heavy cream, which can make just about anything better.
I also had a problem: My potatoes were kind of nasty once I’d cut into them. Not exactly rotten, but with enough bad spots to mean that I’d have to throw most of them away.
But I had a better idea. When making vegetable soup, it’s also a good idea to make a quick stock using the vegetable trimmings and any spare veggies you have sitting in the fridge. This reduces waste, enhances flavor, and requires almost no extra time. Given the sorry state of my potatoes, I decided to toss them in as well, so that I could extract the starch (to thicken the soup) without actually including them in the soup.
The results? Excellent. Soul warmed, body comforted.
Though I do have one question: Does anyone know how to make a cream soup that doesn’t separate when chilled? The soup is great when hot, but quickly splits into layers in the fridge. It still tastes good, but you have to stir it before reheating.
I can’t really complain, though. This soup is worth the hardship of stirring.
Rainy Day Cream of Vegetable Soup
A few leeks
A few carrots
A few parsnips
A few potatoes
Salt and pepper
1. Place a pot half-full of water over high heat. Clean, trim, and peel all vegetables, and add all the trimmings to pot. (If potatoes are nasty, toss them in as well.) Add a few smashed cloves of garlic and any oldish (not rotten) vegetables you’ve got on hand. When it boils, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, saute garlic and leeks in olive oil over very low heat until soft. This should take around 15 minutes.
3. Add in chopped carrots, parsnips, add non-nasty potatoes. Add salt and saute for five minutes.
4. Add quick stock from #1, just enough to cover vegetables, plus about another inch. (The quick stock is a good idea, but not at all necessary. Water will do just fine, as will store-bought stock.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Add cream, salt and pepper to taste, and a pat of butter if you’re feeling luxurious. Eat with good movie and no thoughts of the weather outside.