Creamy Leek & Potato Soup + America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetables Illustrated Cookbook Review

Cook’s Illustrated new cookbook Vegetables Illustrated is a beautifully compiled cookbook of delicious, easy to make, and crowd-pleasing recipes featuring vegetables as the star.  The cookbook reads like a reference guide with vegetables separated into individual chapters accompanied by tips, tricks, and innovative recipes that any meat lover will enjoy.

I chose the creamy leek and potato soup because I was craving something warm and comforting with the taste and colors of spring.  April in New England is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, sunny and warm one day then raw and raining the next!  This soup did not disappoint in flavor or comfort.  The flavor of the leeks shines through while the thyme compliments its earthy flavor.  The addition of the russet potato and bread make this soup hearty without the addition of cream.  Seasoning to taste with salt and pepper is important as both bring out the flavor of the leeks.  I added a bit of Maldon sea salt flakes which is a must buy for any salt lover.  Just a sprinkle is all you need.  Serve this soup with fresh, crusty bread and you have comfort in a bowl.

Next on my list of must makes from this cookbook is the southwestern radish and apple salad, quickly followed by a carrot cake recipe that makes my mouth water every time I look at the photograph.  With four hundred and eighty-five pages of recipes, I have a lot to explore and just in time with fresh produce from farmer’s markets arriving soon.  You can purchase this cookbook here.  I highly recommend it.  Happy Spring!

I reached out to America’s Test Kitchen who sent me this cookbook for free.  All opinions are my own.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

 Ingredients:

2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced thin, dark green parts halved and cut into 2-inch pieces, (be sure to wash all of it thoroughly)

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)

2 cups of water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

1 small russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh thyme or tarragon (I used thyme.)

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, toasted a bit and torn into ¼ inch pieces

Directions:

Add broth, water, and dark green leek pieces to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Using a fine mesh sieve strain broth over an empty bowl while pushing on the solids to release as much liquid and flavor as possible.  Set aside.

Add butter to a now-empty saucepan and melt over medium-low heat.  Add sliced white bread, green leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Reduce heat to low and cook stirring often until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Next, increase the heat to high and add broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until potato is soft and bread breaks down about 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and herb sprig.  Process soup in batches in a blender or use a handheld immersion blender to save you time.  Process until smooth.  Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt flakes and thyme leaves.  Serve with crusty bread if desired.  Enjoy!

 

 

America’s Test Kitchen’s Bucatini with Peas, Kale and Pancetta

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America’s Test Kitchen just recently came out with a new cookbook called Cook It in Your Dutch Oven.  I flipped through three hundred pages of beautiful images of food with easy, mouth-watering recipes before settling on bucatini with peas, kale, and pancetta as a new weeknight meal to try.   Pasta is such a comfort food, especially during a cold New England winter.  Why not add one more in our weekly rotation of comfort food?

This recipe is light but heavy on flavor thanks to the addition of bacon crumbles and lemon infused panko bread crumbs.  Five cups of kale add a healthy green and a bit of a bitter flavor which offsets the rich bacon undertones.  The crunchy, bright breadcrumbs and crisp bacon add excellent texture and depth.  Easy, kid-friendly and all of it made in your Dutch oven, what’s not to like?

Cook It In Your Dutch Oven includes recipes for one-pot dinners, classic soups, hearty stews and chilis, roasts and braises, fried foods, simple sides, bakery style breads, and dessert.  Lamb meatballs with orzo, tomatoes and feta, spicy Thai-style shrimp soup, classic beef stew, roast chicken with cranberry-walnut stuffing, and California-style fried fish tacos are just a few of the recipes that are now on my must make list.  My desire for sweets takes precedence over my desire for savory so I may need to start with chocolate lava cake for a crowd.

Interested in buying a copy?  Head to America’s Test Kitchen or Amazon.  Enjoy!

 

*I reached out to America’s Test Kitchen.  In exchange for testing a recipe and posting it on my blog, I received a free copy of Cook It In Your Dutch Oven. *

 

Bucatini with Peas, Kale and Pancetta

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cookbook Cook It In Your Dutch Oven

Ingredients:

½ cup panko bread crumbs, toasted

1 ½ ounce of Parmesan cheese, about ¾ cup

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Salt and pepper ( I used Kosher salt.)

2 ounces of pancetta, cut into ½ inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup dry white wine

2 ½ cups water, + more as needed

2 cups chicken broth

1-pound bucatini

5 ounces of baby kale, about 5 cups

1 cup of frozen peas

Directions:

Toast breadcrumbs in a small skillet with a bit of olive oil until golden brown.  Next, mix together toasted breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of Parmesan, olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Cook pancetta in your Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Set aside until ready to serve pasta.

Add garlic and remaining lemon zest to Dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.  Add wine, scraping any browned bits and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add water and broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in pasta and return to a strong simmer.  Cook pasta, stirring often until the pasta is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add kale and peas.  Stir and continue to cook until the peas and kale are tender about 4 minutes.  Add remaining Parmesan and stir until pasta is creamy and completely coated about 30 seconds.  Add extra hot water if pasta seems too dry.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve and sprinkle each serving with crispy pancetta and lemon panko breadcrumbs.  Enjoy!