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!

 

 

A Dose of Fall Comfort Food: Butternut Squash + Apple Soup plus 5 Must Try Fall Desserts

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Last week I was sick. I felt awful, really awful. Luckily, Bubba was able to work from home for a day to help deal with the kids. It was the first time in I don’t know how long I had an actual sick day. I napped, I didn’t make any meals or clean any dishes, Bubba did the laundry and took the kids to the park and I watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Yes, an entire episode not recorded, in the middle of the day! That never happens.

After my fever broke I felt better, but I needed something comforting to eat. A couple of days before I got sick, we went apple picking. So on my counter I had a bunch of apples and a butternut squash from our CSA staring at me. “Make something with me!” they seemed to scream. Ok fine, but what? My mind felt hazy and my body still ached a bit. I grabbed my new favorite cookbook, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, and looked up butternut squash. This was not the time for creativity, I just needed a good recipe for something soothing. (All of her recipes are good. If you are looking to buy a new cookbook, buy her book. You’ll love it!) I found Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. Perfect, just what my body needs now.

The soup has a bit of spice to it which I love. The apples add a subtle sweetness which works well with the butternut squash, and a pinch of cayenne gives a little heat. The combination of the apples, squash and thyme simmering together made our house smell like fall. I served the soup with crusty bread and chopped chives sprinkled on top. G tried the soup and wasn’t impressed. C refused to try the soup but she did dip a piece of bread in it and said it tasted “ok.” I’ll keep working on her and G. Bubba loved the soup. At least one other person in our family loved the soup.

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The apples are a mix of Macintosh and Honey Crisp. Honey Crisp is my favorite.

_KH10032One two-pound butternut squash, two apples, two small onions or one medium and a sprig of thyme are the main ingredients.

_KH10036Peel the squash. I love the golden orange color on the inside.

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Scrape out the seeds and chop into 1 inch cubes.

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Bring the apples, onions, squash, broth and seasonings to a boil and then allow to simmer for about a half hour. Check every ten minutes while simmering and add more broth if necessary.

_KH10061Serve with crusty bread and top with chopped chives, walnuts and crème fraiche. Use all toppings or just one! Take a big bite and feel better.

Butternut Squash + Apple Soup

Recipe from Dinner: A Love Story

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 small or 1 medium onion

A large glug of olive oil

Leaves from one sprig of fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. curry powder (optional but I used it)

1/8 tsp. cayenne

1 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 apples peeled, cored and cut into any size chunks (Macintosh or Fuji work well here. I used Macs. Do not use Red Delicious.)

31/2 cups or more of chicken broth. (If you are not using homemade chicken broth, buy low sodium so you can add the amount of salt you want. Store bought chicken broth tends to be too salty for me.)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Toppings: chopped chives, chopped walnuts or sour cream. Try crème fraiche instead of sour cream for a topping even creamier.

Directions: 

Brown the onion in a large dutch oven or stock pot for about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme, curry powder and cayenne and stir. Add squash and apples and chicken broth. Be sure the broth covers the ingredients by about 1/2 inch.

Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Check the soup every 10 minutes and make sure it stays at the same level. If it doesn’t, add more broth. After 30 minutes, check to see if the squash is tender. Continue to cook until tender if it is not. Remove soup from the heat and puree it using a blender or immersion blender. If you using a traditional blender be sure to puree the soup in batches and keep the lid slightly open so it doesn’t explode. Serve hot with as many suggested toppings as desired. Enjoy!

5 Must Try Fall Desserts

I love to bake. When the seasons change I get excited to try new recipes. I plan on trying the recipes list below and I’ll let you know how they turn out.

I spotted these pumpkin bars on Two Peas and Their Pod and I must try them very soon.

Caramel apples are a must eat in the fall but what about adding bacon to them? Check out the recipe here.

I love cupcakes. This cupcake will satisfy your need for anything pumpkin.

Apple pie with caramel? Yes! Get the recipe here.

A fall dessert that won’t pack on the pounds? It exists here.

Sweet Corn Soup

_KH10026I love soup in the summertime, especially corn soup. The corn from our farm share is extra sweet now so I decided to make Alice Water’s Sweet Corn Soup. Bubba requested the soup after the excessive heat finally let up. 80 degrees with no humidity felt cool compared to what we just dealt with the past few weeks. I served the soup at room temperature with a salad and crusty bread from our local bakery. The perfect summer meal. Our almost 3-year-old gave it a shot and liked it, but our daughter refused. I wasn’t shocked. I hope her picky stage will end soon!

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The only tweak I made to her recipe is saving the shucked corn cobs and adding them to the broth when the soup is simmering. The cobs added additional corn flavor.

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After the soup simmers for a bit, remove the cobs and puree the soup in small batches in a blender.  You can serve it warm or at room temperature but I bet it tastes good cold as well. As long as you have sweet corn, this soup won’t disappoint you.

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Sweet Corn Soup

barely adapted from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food

Ingredients

4 Tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

Kosher Salt

5 ears of sweet corn

1 quart of water (4 cups)

Toppings

Crème fraiche (optional) seasoned with savory herbs, salt and pepper

Chives or Scallions (optional)

Directions

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. Set the kernels and cobs aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt + pepper and cook until soft about 15 minutes. Do not let the onion brown. Add the kernels to the onions and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Cover with 1 quart of water (4 cups). Add the cobs and bring to a boil. After it reaches a boil, lower the heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree the soup in small batches. (Be careful when blending hot soup in a blender. Be sure there is an air vent to allow the steam to escape.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add suggested toppings if desired and enjoy!