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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bright and white


Sometimes, when life appears to be throwing a lot at us, the idea of big, complex food can be a bit much. By big and complex I refer to things which, although fabulous in their own right at other times, might just require more of ourselves than we are able to give in terms of cooking time and eating appreciation - think prep-intensive long-cooked casseroles; many-ingredient marinades and sauces; and fiddly, fancy Asian-style buffets with innumerable different dishes on the table at once. All good, but not what my body craves on a fragile day.

At these times, it's comfort that I seek, and even in my fairly broad culinary scope, comfort food more often than not entails white food. Fluffy mashed potato; saucy and gooey macaroni cheese (something which really deserves an entire future post of its own); eggy spaghetti carbonara; molten-cheese toasted sandwiches; and the above creamy leek and potato soup. Noticed the recurring carbohydrate theme yet?

So although I'm the first to admit that eating like this all the time is not where you want to be heading diet-wise (or cooking-wise if you like a challenge), the occasional day or two of white food can certainly have a calming and restorative effect on your emotional health. And that, really, is something precious.

Leek and Potato Soup

enough for around 4 decent servings

1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 large or two small leeks, white parts only, sliced

2 cloves garlic, smashed

5 medium-large potatoes (I used Nadines, but most general-purpose/tending to floury potatoes will do), peeled and diced into about 6 chunks each

1 litre chicken stock (not too salty please, you can always season further at the end of cooking!)

enough cream to make you feel indulgent, not so much that you feel queasy

salt, pepper, parsley

Add a splash of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat and gently sweat your onion, leek and garlic without colouring until soft (if you find it's catching on the bottom, add the tiniest splash of water to give a bit more steam).

Add the chopped potatoes and increase the heat to medium. Add your stock and bring gently to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes can be squashed with the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and leave to cool a bit.

Blend your soup (I use a hand held stick blender for convenience, but batches in the food processor would also work), adding a touch of water or milk to thin it if necessary. Adjust seasoning to taste, then gently, over low heat, stir in the cream to reach your desired richness (I have, at health-conscious times, made this without any dairy additions and it's been just fine).

Serve in deep bowls with cracked pepper and a scattering of parsley, and maybe some extra-buttery garlic bread if you feel the need.

Will keep covered in the fridge for about 4 days (I find it best on the second day but can't usually wait that long to eat my first bowl!).

2 comments:

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Emily said...

Ah, comfort food. Simultaneously the most terrible and fantastic thing in the world.
Especially now that the days are getting colder and couch looks increasingly inviting.