Thursday, December 19, 2013

When life gives you leeks

not that long ago
I am approximately 80% done with my Christmas shopping. I am exactly 60% done with my required recipe allotment from Soups.

After a solid but uninspiring leek and potato soup and an overly rich black bean soup, I have found a recipe in Soups that I love. It is an Elizabeth David recipe. Every David recipe I've tried from the Good Cook series has been phenomenal. I knew she was revered and now I know why.

This soup is ideal for those of us who have been living on frosted Christmas cookies and the free samples they give out at See's. It is healthy, cheap, easy, vegan, anti-cancer, gluten-free. I think it even works on the Paleo diet, though I'm not sure about peas. Most importantly, it is delicious. Typing out the recipe for this soup felt like an important public service and I hope someone makes it.

Smooth Vegetable Soup
adapted from Soups which adapted the recipe from Elizabeth David's Book of Mediterranean Food

1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds leeks, white and pale green parts cut into chunks and well washed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
a big handful spinach leaves (or 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas
a big handful lettuce leaves (or 1 cup)
5 cups water

1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy soup pot and add the leeks. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes until soft and light gold.

2. Add the spinach, peas, and lettuce and stir for a minute to coat with oil. Add the water. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Puree with Vitamix, food processor, stick blender, whatever. Taste for seasoning and serve. Yogurt or sour cream would make a tasty garnish. Serves 4 as a main course.

20 comments:

  1. Is any kind of lettuce acceptable? Romaine, oak leaf, butter? I assume not iceberg because yuck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The recipe recommends romaine, but I used butter lettuce we already had.

      Delete
  2. Let just say that a friend made a bunch of leek & potato soup and froze it for later. Six weeks and several leek soup meals later, she's tired of it. Could my friend thaw her remaining leek and potato soup, add lettuce, spinach, and peas and then blend for Smooth Vegetable Soup?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably "your friend" could add any number of vegetables -- broccoli, for one -- and make that soup more interesting . . .

      Delete
  3. I can't believe this soup isn't boring food! It doesn't sound good, but I am going to trust you. After Christmas, I will make it. It sounds like something one would eat on a cleanse, and after Christmas, I need a cleanse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't it sound boring? I hope I wasn't hallucinating now that I've sold it so hard. I did put a lot of pepper in with the leeks and 1/2 cup is quite a bit of olive oil. So it's richer than you think.

      Delete
  4. This is the recipe for the soup I'm making tonight--http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spicy-Pork-and-Mustard-Green-Soup-51210260 It smells good and has noodles so I won't be bothered with bread. I will make your soup for sure because we love that kind of pureed vegetable soup. I totally agree with adding a bit of yogurt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, that soup doesn't even LOOK boring.

      Delete
  5. I love pureed soups! There was this hearty sort of vegetable soup I ate when I was a broke art student in Italy twenty-five years ago (!) that was served at a little communal table near the Mercato Centrale in Florence. They floated a thick slice of rustic bread in it and it was heavenly and cheap. The locals drank little tumblers of red wine with it. I've never had better soup. Your Smooth Vegetable Soup sounds like a similar thing. The lettuce sounds wrong to me the chef, but sounds right to me the reminiscing former college student in a foreign country.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, lettuce sounds silly. I've seen it before in soup recipes -- maybe even Italian recipes -- and shook my head. I'm sure you could leave it out. Isn't it just water with a little chlorophyll?

      Delete
  6. Cooked lettuce is actually quite nice and I don't recommend leaving it out. I'd go with Romaine. Or probably what the Italians use is escarole. I imagine David couldn't find it in England and substituted the lettuce instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what it adds. Gentle sweetness?

      Delete
    2. I just made it and used the escarole, which, since I live in NYC, is pretty easy to find all year round. It's delicious and feels quite virtuous, like eating a hot salad. I drizzled a little high quality olive oil on top which gives it a lovely flavor. Thanks for posting the recipe, as I have a feeling this will become a winter staple around here. It was cooked and ready within half an hour of my arrival home.

      Delete
    3. I'm so glad to hear this. Whenever I recommend something I worry that I've oversold it.

      Delete
  7. Who is the author of the Soups book? I like to check books out from the library to find out if I 'need' them but there are many with this title and none titled Soups by Elizabeth David. Soups are my go-to recipes when the question is what's for dinner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The book is Soups from the Time-Life Good Cook series, edited by Richard Olney. He excerpts recipes from various cookbooks, including this one which came from Elizabeth David's Book of Mediterranean Food.

      Delete
  8. Now I really want to make this super-leeky soup and tell everyone it's named leek-ade! HA. Sounds so green and delicious. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ten years or so ago, my local PBS station was rerunning a British detective show from the mid-90s, called Pie In the Sky. When I first started to hear about Elizabeth David not long ago, I suspected that she was the real-life inspiration for the detective's favorite cookbook author. Turns out that is correct, according to the wikipedia entry for Pie In the Sky. Now I want to first try some of her recipes and then find those episodes of the show to watch again, (Doesn't seem to be on netflix.)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've printed out this soup recipe and will try it soon. I have trusted Elizabeth David for many years. A long time ago we drove into Tunis after a few weeks in the Sahara and found crowds of people, bookstores, cafes, pastry shops, long-awaited mail, souks, and movie theaters. Right away we stocked up on books, including two of her cookbooks, and we sat at a cafe table in the sun and just read and drank tea and got hungry from her writing.


    ReplyDelete
  11. Seriously, cooked lettuce sounds so wrong but this soup sounds perfect. I love this kind of soup. I was expecting a potato in there but without one makes it irresistibly interesting. Thanks for the suggestion!

    ReplyDelete