Can you guess what kind of soup this is?
Looks like Christmas in a bowl, doesn’t it? Split-pea? Asparagus? Cilantro and parsley? Kale? Spinach? Any other green soups you know?
It’s actually potato leek soup.
In some respects, today’s meal could be considered a bit of a failure. Failure #1: It’s soup. Which is not inherently bad, especially in January and on a night that Alex has returned from a day of snowboarding. But today it just happens to be unseasonably warm. It was at least 50F today. Definitely not the kind of day that makes you say “man, wouldn’t soup be perfect right now?”
Failure #2: It’s green. In case you haven’t recently consulted a green-eggs-and-ham antagonist under the age of eight, this is a huge no-no. I’m guessing that most of the potato-leek soups you’ve eaten in the past were more of a creamy white color. If we’re comparing it to the Wizard of Oz, mine more closely resembles the sickly green skin of the Wicked Witch of the West, not the pale Glinda the Good Witch.
Luckily January has not left me completely in the negative-thinking doldrums, so I’d like to point out the positives that came of this experiment.
Positive #1: Potato-leek soup is one of those magical soups that can also be eaten cold. In fact, it’s given a super fancy name if you serve it cold: vichyssoise. So in case the warm-ish weather suddenly makes us feel slow and sluggish, we can just eat our soup chilled.
Positive #2: Less leek went to waste. After I made the soup, I did a little research, and it seems that most potato-leek soup recipes recommend that you use only the white and light green parts of the leek. Have you seen a leek? Abiding by these directions means you end up chopping off half of the leek! I couldn’t bear to let that much go to waste, so in a fit of rebellious gumption, I included a good chunk of dark green leek pieces. This, unquestionably, is what tinted my soup green after I blended it up with my immersion blender. (But what a great contrast it makes with the red bowl, eh?)
Positive #3: Making this soup gave me the perfect excuse to try out a savory biscotti, which I had been dying to do since reading this article earlier this week. Biscotti is a brilliant way to add some great texture and accent flavors to soup, and I don’t know why I never thought of this before.
I’m not even going to bother giving the recipe for the soup. I did consult Julia Child before making it, but it’s the very first recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking which, given the level of involvement of some of the other recipes in that book, must be saying something about its relative ease of execution, don’t you think?
Here’s what you do: peel and chop up some potatoes. Chop up some leeks. Put in a large soup pot and cover with 2 quarts of liquid (water, stock, etc.) with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer 45-50 minutes.
You can eat it chunky, or blend it up with an immersion blender or in a stand blender. Just before serving, stir in a little butter or cream or sour cream, if you’d like.
Letting the soup bubble away gave me plenty of time to make these savory biscotti, and I encourage you to try them too.
Savory Cheddar Biscotti (thanks to The New York Times)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2. Mix together in stand mixer until thick and relatively smooth.
– 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– almost 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3. Add dry ingredients and continue mixing briefly until it just comes together as a dough.
4. Pull the dough together with your hands and shape into a square log shape, about 8 inches long. Bake on a baking sheet 25 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and cut the “loaf” from top to bottom into slices.
6. Turn the slices on their side and return to the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the slices over, and bake another 10-15 minutes.
One thing’s for sure: I will definitely deposit biscotti in my bank of ideas for things to serve with soup. Don’t get me wrong– there’s nothing wrong with a good chunk of crusty bread or a handful of cheese to top off a bowl of soup. But before you reach for those little oyster crackers or try to crush up some saltine crackers, please consider baking up some savory biscotti. It’s almost as quick as making cookies and will add so much more flavor to your soup while still delivering a satisfying crunch even as it absorbs some of the liquid.
To what soups would you consider adding a savory biscotti? What about a sweet biscotti? Still not convinced? What toppings do you like to throw on your soups?