A Hearty, Classic Soup

This week’s assignment was to cook a recipe from a recipe book found in Gleeson Library (full assignment shown here: http://silverinsf.blogspot.com/2012/04/cook-from-book-from-gleeson-library.html). We took a break from normal class time and wondered down to the main campus library where we all searched for cookbooks that caught our interests. For some weird reason, I picked up the American Gothic Cookbook, which featured Grant Wood’s strange painting on the front (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gothic), and while semi-tantalizing, the recipes included a lot of canned foods, which threw me off a little bit. Uninspired, I moved on to other recipe books, and was immediately drawn to Bon Appetit’s “Soups and Salads” cookbook. Two of my favorite foods!

The book, which was published in 1983, features an array of interesting and hard to find soups and salads, including a soufflé-stuffed artichoke and a cold mint-cucumber soup. But the book also holds the recipes of some of the classic soups that we all know and love. The soups that we had on cold rainy days, in cafes over friendly conversations, and soups that we watched loved ones make for us. As much as I love soup, I have only attempted to make it homemade once before. It was tomato soup that tasted like pico de gallo (oops!). So this time I attempted my second favorite, potato leek soup.

This is Mike’s. Mike’s is a little farm stand located in Fulton, California. I visited Mike’s on the way back from a day trip to Austin Creek State Recreation Area, which is a state park that is about to close (eff you, budget cuts!). Austin Creek is absolutely beautiful, when you enter the park; beautiful, massive redwood trees surround you. You then follow a three-mile path, which is a one-way street, which two way traffic to get through the redwoods to the top of a mountain, where Austin Creek lays. After our all day trip to this natural wonderland, we remembered that we passed Mike’s on the way and were ready to get some fresh fruits and veggies. I bought the leeks for $1 and potatoes for $2 from Mike’s, as well as the best strawberries I’ve ever had for only $1.50, oranges that were .59 cents a pound, 2 artichokes for $3, and 3 mangoes for $2.  All of that for about ten dollars is pretty awesome!

The recipe is super easy. Here is what you need:

8 cups chicken broth


6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (( actually didn’t peel them and left the potato skins, make sure you wash them if you do this though)

6 celery stalks

3 medium leeks, trimmed, well washed, and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tables butter or margarine (I left this part out because I felt that butter wasn’t necessary)

1 cup sour cream (crucial!)

Chopped fresh chives (optional-I left this part out as well).

Here are the directions, straight from the book:

Combine broth with salt to taste in 3-4 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add potato, celery and leek. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Puree Vegetables in batches with some liquid in processor or blender. Return puree to saucepan, blending well. Place over medium heat. Add butter, stirring until melted (I left this part out). Ladle into Bowls. Top each with some sour cream and chives. Serve immediately.

What would I do differently? Next time I would serve the soup with homemade bread smothered in roasted garlic, yum! Here’s the final product, definitely one of the most esculent meals I’ve made for myself:

potato-leek soup, with a splash of sour cream