August 17th, 2012

cafela: (salt is magical)
This is one of my favorite soups, and it's one you don't come across as often here in the US. It's creamy and very healthy. It's also a very forgiving and versatile recipe, and you can play with different assortments of veggies to figure out what you like best.

When I lived in France, we had variations on this soup every week, and we ate soup for 5 out of 7 nights. If you don't like or can't find a particular vegetable in the ingredient list, you can substitute in a similar veggie, no problem. The only things you probably shouldn't change are the shallot and the onions. You probably want to keep at least a couple potatoes for the starch/thickness they provide the soup. Everything else can be swapped for something else--even the herbs.

My host mom did a variant that took out most of the potatoes and swapped it for pumpkin. You can use yellow squash instead of zucchini, or add turnips, or parsnips, or almost anything, really. The biggest thing is to try to balance different veggies, so that you don't get a soup that tastes of one particular vegetable (unless that's what you want). Beef boullion or broth has a more pronounced (and as my host sister said, bizarre) flavor, but it works well enough if you've got red wine instead of white. You also don't have to make this soup in such large quantities; it halves very easily.



Ingredients:
6 large red or golden potatoes
1 med-large leek
1 shallot
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium zucchini
5 large carrots, peeled
8 oz whole mushrooms (button or baby bella are ideal)
4-5 pearl onions or 1 baby vidalia onion
1 very large heirloom/ugli tomato (or two normal size vine-ripened tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 4 sage leaves, tied together with twine)
2 chicken bouillion cubes+water OR 6 cups of chicken broth/stock
1/2 cup white wine
Also, you need either an immersion blender or a normal blender if you want the smooth texture.

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a large soup pot. Peel garlic cloves, shallot, and onions. Chop in half, then toss into the pot along with the bay leaves and the tied up herbs. Note: If you don't have fresh herbs to make a bouquet garni, sub in 2 tsp thyme, 2 tsp sage, 1/2 tsp rosemary. Let this heat up on low while you prep the other veggies.

Rinse the leek, chop off the root and top inch of green part and throw that away, then chop the rest of it up (1 inch slices are fine). Rinse it in a strainer, then add to the soup pot along with the mushrooms. Turn the heat up to medium high. Chop the carrots and zucchini, add to the soup pot. Peel the potatoes (I left some of the skins on because red potatoes are hard to peel), chop into 1 to 2 inch cubes. Add to soup pot. Chop the tomato, add to the soup pot. Rough chop is good enough--remember, you're going to blend all of this later, so nothing has to be perfect.

Stir everything up, then add the remaining ingredients. The liquid should just cover the veggies (if it doesn't, just add a little more chicken stock). See the photo below:



Cover and cook on medium high for at least 30 minutes. Check and stir occasionally. Once the potatoes and carrots are soft, you can turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves and the bouquet garni.

If you have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup at this point. Have some water/chicken stock on hand in case you need to thin up the soup to blend more easily. If you have to use a traditional blender, let the soup cool for awhile, then puree in batches. Either way, ideally you blend the veggies until you have a thick, creamy smooth soup. At this point, you'll want to add salt and pepper to taste. You can heat the soup back up in the pot to serve, or store it in the fridge and heat up individual servings. It makes enough soup for 7-10 servings, depending on size of the bowls. To garnish, add a splash of cream, some grated parmesan cheese, or a sprig of thyme.

Voila, a very healthy soup with no fat except for the olive oil/butter used at the very beginning.

April 2014

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