Saturday, April 9, 2011

Leek Soup with Dill Oil

My love affair with soup continues!!!

I can't help it...

But I'm changing it up a bit...I discovered a new cooking website that I have fallen in love called 101 Cookbooks. 101 Cookbooks is based off a lady named Heidi who was a self-proclaimed impulsive buyer of cookbooks. She always purchased them with the very best intentions...and she read them...and dog-eared the pages and marked favorite recipes with post-its...and then stuck those cookbooks on her shelf and never actually cooked anything from them.

Heidi's Own Cookbook, based on her own recipes...just recently published!!

One day, she looked up and realized that she had over 100 different cookbooks...and decided right then and there that it was time to stop buying, and start COOKING.

Heidi focuses on cooking with all-natural ingredients. Since our family is becoming more and more healthy, this appeals to me. Having a large family, I cannot afford to always purchase organic or raw foods. I try to do my best, but it's mostly unfeasible for me to go completely raw.

Heidi is also, of course, primarily a vegetarian.

We, on the other hand, are carnivores. However...I do try to make at least one vegetarian (or even vegan!!) meal a week...if not more. But since it is not my primary mode of cooking, I often run out of ideas...and tend to focus on what's easy...which is usually soup.

But I have a good friend named Jenn Charron...and she is a vegetarian. I introduced her to the 101 Cookbooks website, and she loved it. And we have since decided to get together at least once a week and make dinner for our families together from 101 Cookbooks, or other healthy, vegetarian sites.

Jenn and I in my kitchen (it was Halloween...hence the horns on my head. They're not really there...I swear...)

I figure that since she's a veggie-head herself, she will assist and enlighten me on all things vegetarian...helping me branch out fro my stand-by vegetarian staple...soup (but I LOVE soup...)

And she figures that since I am always tying new recipes and making stuff that is foreign to me, I will help her break out of her own cooking ruts.

It's a win-win.

So I made my first recipe from 101 Cookbooks last night. It was, as you can tell by the title, a soup (give me some time!! I'm working on it!!). Its called Leek Soup with Dill Oil.

I have a recipe for Potato-Leek Soup which is very good...but thanks to the addition of a large amount of cream cheese, it is not AS healthy as this broth-based soup. This soup also focuses more on leeks than potatoes. And I have to say, I love the addition of the "toppings"...the Dill Oil makes the soup actually taste's fresh and like eating a piece of spring. The toasted sliced almonds give it a pleasant crunch, and the Gruyere cheese gives it a bit of pluck.

In other words...I fully enjoyed it...and my kids liked it too (they couldn't wait to eat something with a bright green "sauce" drizzled all over it). This is the original recipe, it makes 8-10 servings, so there's really no need to double unless you plan on freezing some for later. The chef, Heidi, suggests serving leftovers over scoops of cooked farro or brown rice.

I only changed up the style a bit...I've included my notes, so feel free to use the original or my adaptations.

Leek Soup with Dill Oil

  • 1 small bunch of fresh dill, about 5 ounces
  • 9 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 pounds leeks
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 2 large, thin-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced (I used Yukon Golds)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6-1/2 cups + good-tasting vegetable broth, preferably HOT
  • Toasted almond slices, for topping
  • Grated Gruyere cheese, for topping
1. Use a blender or food processor to puree the dill and olive oil into a creamy green emulsion. Set aside.

Yummy grass green...
2. Cut the dark, tough green leaves from the leeks, trim off the roots, and wash/rinse well. You can slice the leeks lengthwise to get in between the layers, or make a few rough chops and give them a quick soak...whatever method you prefer. You can also chop by hand (which is what I did).

It's A LOT of leeks...
3. In a large soup pot, heat the butter and 5 TBS of the dill oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, stir in the leeks and a couple big pinches of sea salt. Stir well, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften up and collapse, about 6-8 minutes.

4. Now, stir in potato slices and garlic slices and cook, uncovered, stirring regularly, until the potatoes are very, very soft. If the leeks at the bottom of the pot are getting too much color, dial back the heat a bit and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring.

Yukon Golds...
At this point you can mash everything with a potato masher or large fork. If you prefer a smoother soup, use a hand blender, but this soup is great a little on the chunky side. Stir in the hot broth, adjusting the amount based on whether you like a thick, or thin, soup.

( is where I deviated. I mashed with a potato masher, as suggested, and added the broth...but I didn't feel it was creamy I ladled out a third of the soup into my blender, and blended it until it was thick and smoother, although still with a little texture. I poured it out into a waiting bowl, and did the same thing with ANOTHER third of the soup. Then I poured the creamy, almost-but-not-quite-mashed-potato-consistency soup back into the third that was in the pot and still primarily broth-y and stirred well. The broth thinned the thickness of what I had blended perfectly...making a fabulously creamy, but still mildly chunky, soup. This is the same method I use for my Potato-Cheddar Soup...and it worked great.)

5. Bring back to a simmer, serve topped with almonds, grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of the remaining dill oil.

Soup with dill oil, before other toppings...
courtesy 101 Cookbooks

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