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!

 

 

Warm Rice Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette + 5 Rice Salad Links

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Here it is.  My feel good, good for you January salad straight from Brooklyn Supper.  This beauty contains warm whole grain rice dressed with a light and bright blood orange vinaigrette made more complex with minced shallots and a good squeeze of mild honey. Rainbow Swiss chard is sautéed in a bit olive oil along with a sliced shallot and tossed into the salad; after all greens are a must (for many) in January.  Next come the add-on(s): raw pepitas, dried tart cherries, chives, peeled blood orange rounds and feta.  I could eat this pairing everyday.  And I did, until it disappeared.

Now back to sweets, after all January is almost over.

Warm Rice Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6

very slightly adapted from Brooklyn Supper

Ingredients for vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon blood orange zest

3 tablespoons blood orange juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 olive oil

good squeeze of a mild honey

Directions:

Grab a small bowl and whisk together the blood orange zest, juice, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper.  Continue to whisk while slowly adding the olive oil.  Whisk until the dressing is well combined and thick.  Add a squeeze of honey. Whisk. Taste.  Repeat if you want it more sweet.

Ingredients for the rice salad:

1 cup dry black rice or wild rice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup raw pepitas

1/4 dried tart cherries

2 tablespoons EVOO

1 shallot, sliced

1 bunch of rainbow chard, chopped

3 medium blood oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons, chopped chives

1/2 cup feta cheese (optional but delicious)

Directions:

Cook rice according to package directions.  Strain excess water and toss cooked rice with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette.  Set aside.

Using a medium skillet, sauté (medium heat) the sliced shallots in the olive oil until they just begin to brown, about 2 minutes.  Add the chopped chard and a bit of sea salt.  Continue to sauté until the chard begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.

Add the shallots and chard to the rice.  Add the cherries, pepitas and more dressing.  Toss.  Taste.  Add salt, if needed.  Place blood orange rounds throughout the salad.  Lastly, top the salad with the feta, chives and a bit of black pepper.  Serve and enjoy!

**Salad will last refrigerated in an airtight container for several days, though it is best the day it is made.  Eat cold, at room temperature or heated up a little in the microwave.**

5 Rice Salad Links You Can’t Miss!

Looking to be or stay healthy this month?  Head to Del Sole’s for Licias’s take on a superfood salad.

If you love pomegranate seeds you need to check out Pinch of Yum’s pomegranate, kale, wild rice salad with walnuts and feta.

If this salad was my last meal on earth, I would die happy.  Head to one of my favorite blogs, Cookie and Kate for the recipe.

When corn and nectarines are once again abundant, I plan on making Not Without Salt’s green rice salad with nectarines and corn.  Summer, summer, summer…

The kitchn’s chopped brown rice salad with grapes and pecans is a salad I plan on making very soon because I am done with grilled cheese crusts and Sunbutter sandwiches…for now. 🙂