Monday, October 7, 2013

Adventures in Vegetarian Cooking: Cheesy (or Vegan) Potato Leek Soup with a Kick

One of my family's favorite stories is when my sister was a toddler and my mom asked her what she wanted for dinner.  "Drip Soup" was her answer.  It took my mom awhile to figure out that she was referring to Leek Soup (Drip - Leak - Leek).  It has been Drip Soup in our house since.

We've gotten leeks a couple of times in our CSA share and this time we also got potatoes.  Even though it was a hot August day and not really the best day for soup, I decided I'd make the soup for the freezer.  Even though I made this in August both leeks and potatoes store well so you can probably still find them at fall or winter farmers' markets.

Make sure to wash the leeks really well. Dirt hides in the leaves so strip the outer layers off under cold running water.  You'll probably end up with something like this:

Chop up the leeks, the onions and the jalapeno pepper (what adds the kick).  This will be pureed at the end so no need to worry about size or uniformity.

Our super pot has a brown function so I sauteed the leeks and the garlic prior to adding the potatoes.  You can also do this on the stove top in a separate pan prior to adding it to your slow cooker or pressure cooker.

Pippa is not allowed on the counters.  She is allowed on windowsills and she exploits this loophole to watch what is going on:

I pressure cooked it for 30 minutes in our super pot.  You could also cook it in a slow cooker or on the stove top.  I then used an immersion blender and ended up with...

 It doesn't look super great, but it got a ...

Thumbs up! (Served along side a covered quiche - which was an experiment that worked out well and may just show up in a future "adventures in vegetarian cooking" post).

The rest went into the freezer for a future winter meal.
Here is the recipe:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large leeks, green tops removed rinsed well and roughly chopped
5 cups of potatoes (any kind), chopped up (peeled or unpeeled)
1 jalapeno, partly deseeded (more if you want a bigger kick)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons pepper
4 cups vegetable broth*
Cheddar cheese for topping (without the cheese this recipe would be vegan.  In fact, I served this to my vegan friend Molly a few years back when she visited me in Alaska.  If I recall correctly, and if she was not just being polite, she gave it a thumps up too.)

Sautee the olive oil, garlic, and leeks until soft (about 5 minutes).  Add the potatoes, jalapeno, salt, pepper and broth.  Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.  Blend with an immersion blender and either freeze or serve with cheddar cheese.

*Full disclosure, instead of vegetable broth I added water and a couple of turkey bones (from summersgiving), which makes this recipe not vegetarian.  Let me talk a bit about my philosophy towards eating meat.  I've already mentioned that I've wavered back and forth between eating meat/no meat since I was a teenager.  I've also mentioned how I abhor (my feelings are stronger than hate) wasting meat.  To me, wasting meat is wasting that animal's life completely.  That animal already lived (probably miserably in a factory farm) and died for me and for me to throw it away means its suffering was for nothing.  So we rarely throw away meat. 

Upon reflecting on it a bit more, I also think that the reason that vegetarianism never stuck for me was because I hate to be an inconvenience and it was always all or nothing for me.  Either I ate meat or I didn't.   So if I went over to your house and ate the meat lasagna you cooked for me (the inconvenience part) I might as well have a turkey sandwich for lunch the next day because I was clearly not a vegetarian (the all or nothing part).

But now the goal is not to give up meat entirely but to reduce it a lot.  Since starting this experiment we've cut down on our meat consumption considerably (we rarely buy it anymore and I go days without eating any at all).  So I feel less guilty eating the meat lasagna and will have a hummus sandwich the next day.  Sometimes if I'm sharing tapas with Kevin and he wants the grilled pizza with ham on it, I'll eat it because it's his dinner too.  Other times I'll ask if we can share the vegetarian version.

Maybe this makes me a hypocrite and if you've found this post by googling "Vegan Potato Leek Soup" you probably won't stick around.  But that is okay because this blog is for family and friends and this choice is really working for me.

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