Monday, 30 September 2013

Soup as a displacement activity

This post was in the drafts folder from the time I wrote it (last Monday) until now...

The weather is unsure of itself. It was SHEETING it down t'other week, and now it's warm enough to sit on the balcony during the day. I am not sitting on the balcony. I am huddled in the library or at home quietly wimpering to myself as I attempt to cram ALL OF THE KNOWLEDGE into my brain before the viva on Thursday. I have some rather nice charts, have covered my copy of the thesis with colour-coded post-its, have created pages of key points for each chapter, and cried all over the Dutchman about how inadequate I am (I have now passed my viva, with NO CORRECTIONS, and all that knowledge has now fled my brain).

Anyway. At the weekend I made soup, as a displacement activity in an attempt to take my mind off the worry about the dreaded viva, and it was good.

Six ingredients: leeks, onions, potatoes, stock, butter, seasoning. That’s it. There are some delicious later additions, but essentially if you’ve got those five, you’re ok. Leek and potato soup is the perfect weekend lunch, in my opinion. Mmm, lekker!

This is one of those recipes that isn’t really a recipe: ‘put some stuff in a pan and cook it.’ The reason I wanted to write this down is that I sometimes forget about those recipes that are so simple. When I’m planning the week’s meals it’s nice to know that there are things that take no effort but are delicious. Also there’s a bit of a Jewish grandmother thing going on in my kitchen adventures. I would love some kind of magic fridge and pantry that could provide you with whatever you wanted at the drop of a hat, and right now my freezer is full of nicely portioned leek and potato soup and mini chicken and leek pies, which kind of sums up the Dutchman’s culinary desires for autumn.

Leek and potato soup

Rough quantities only. Serves about 6 (and freezes very well)

- 1 onion
- 3 leeks
- 3 medium potatoes
- 2 pints vegetable stock
- knob of butter
- salt and pepper to season

PLUS! Anything and everything you'd like to add - crème fraîche, fresh chives or parsley, croutons, parmesan...

You will also need a blender if you want the soup properly smooth. A food processor will turn it into a rough consistency but never make it as smooth as a blender can. We have a Philips blender, which I suspect the Dutchman bought because some tiny portion of the price will go to his beloved PSV, so obviously I recommend that as an option if you're in the market.

1. Put Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on. Singing along will make you stop worrying about memorising quotes related to Peter Middleton's theory of 'Distant Reading'.
2. Peel and chop the potatoes*, and place them in a large pan of water with vegetable stock**.
*As you’re going to be blitzing them, cut them quite small to help your processor. Also… the smaller they are the faster they cook and the faster you get to eat!
** I used one cube for two pints of water. I should probably advocate making your own vegetable stock, but ain’t nobody got time for that shit.
3. Whilst the potatoes are boiling, thinly slice the leeks and onions and gently fry them in the butter. (I used my weird soy spread instead and felt that it was no worse for that – the luxurious buttery feel comes more from the smooth potato, I think, than from the actual butter itself.)
4. When the potatoes are fork-soft and the leeks and onions are nice and tender, add the leek mixture to the potatoes to combine. Blend in batches, tasting for seasoning.

We were going to eat the soup with a dollop of crème fraîche and fresh chives, as in the photo above. Then the Dutchman had a brilliant idea - hello olive oil bruschettini!

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