22 January 2011

Caramelized Vegetable Soup....a love story

When I first starting making Sunday dinners, I would browse through pretty much any magazine my mother would hand down to me for something perfect to suit the weather (this was well before the time I had internet steadily or my many America's Test Kitchen cookbooks). She received Bon Appetit from a friend of ours every year for Christmas and never had time to cook anything out of it, so I got the majority of them. One winter day I asked Michael what he wanted for dinner and received a quick reply of potato leek soup. I had never made nor tasted potato leek soup at that point, so I set about trying to find a recipe (remember...no internet readily available). When I happened upon this recipe I saw that it had my two main ingredients: potatoes and leeks. Never mind the fact that is not even close to what everyone knows is potato leek soup. Nonetheless, I made it and received the highest praise one can receive for a blended soup: "there's NO cream in this??" said incredulously. Nope. Not a drop and unbelievably, it's also entirely vegan. Wait...did I just admit that one of my favorite winter recipes is (gulp)....vegan?! This town really has done a number on me. Ha ha.

Potato Soup with Caramelized Vegetables

8 servings

6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 12-oz russet potato, peeled, cut into ½ inch cubes
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Add onions, leeks, celery, and carrots; sauté until most vegetables are deep brown, about 20 minutes. Add potato, 6 cups water, and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Pour soup back into pot and season to taste with salt and pepper*. Bring soup to simmer.

Cleaning and chopping all those veggies probably takes the bulk of your time in making this dish.

I left the lid partially on during caramelizing the vegetables to procure more of the moisture out. Near the end, I left it off mostly and kept scraping up the yummy fond forming on the bottom.
Adequately caramelized vegetables take some time, but it's so worth it.
After adding the water, I put a bit of "chicken" broth powder and some turmeric to boost the earthy flavor and just because it's really good for you.

After the potato is soft, you puree it (easiest with an immersion blender, but you can work in batches through a blender...be careful!). Serve with good sopping bread and wine, of course!
*This recipe originally called for the soup to be strained, but I really prefer not to do that--you get rid of all the good fiber from the vegetables and are left with less of a main dish, in my opinion.

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