It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here for you. It’s hard to believe how quickly the summer slipped by.
I could blame it on the fact that we spent the summer painfully searching, finding, buying, and moving into a new home. And let’s not forget that whole unpacking-getting settled thing, which may continue until my grandchildren graduate from college (the youngest are currently slaving over multiplication tables). I could blame my absence on the fact that until recently, much of my life since Christmas was stuffed into neatly numbered apple boxes, stacked high in a storage space a few hundred miles away, making me feel scattered to the winds. Or I could blame it on a decision to invest myself in creating a new full-time life in Tahoe. This is, after all, the biggest move I’ve made in decades. All true.
But what’s even more true, I just didn’t want to cook. Has that ever happened to you too? Cooking was suddenly a drudge, and I did as little of it as I could get away with. Six o’clock regularly rolled around without any dinner preparations or planning underway, so we ate out. A lot. My stack of cooking magazines towered higher and higher, and I finally swept them all into a couple of boxes. OK, four boxes. They’d all have to be packed to move anyway, I rationalized. The refrigerator, however, was always full-mostly thanks to my husband Carnivorous Maximus. (Man must eat meat, after all, whether or not I’m on hiatus.)
I’ve learned that cooking is a trusty barometer for my sense of well-being. I was having fun, meeting new people, and exploring neighboring mountain towns, but I was also between homes and feeling unsettled. As I recently unpacked an unbelievable number of boxes into my new kitchen in our new home, I hoped I’d get my mojo back soon.
And suddenly it happened. I woke up one morning bursting with ideas, and recipes I wanted to try out. I was re-energized, and felt back in my own skin again, if that makes any sense, like coming home to myself. Perhaps I needed a break. Or maybe I needed to be back in a kitchen I knew I’d be cooking in for a long time to come. Either way, I’m loving cooking and baking again. And just in time for fall comfort food — one of my favorite times of the year.
So here’s a potato soup I’ve been playing with. I highly recommend using Idaho® potatoes, as I genuinely believe they have the best texture and flavor of any others. Here are some additional notes:
Make your life easy and use Gourmet Garden’s garlic pastes. They’re as fresh as if you’d done all the chopping and mincing yourself, without all the work. The link is below in the recipe.
Feel free to use vegetable stock in place of water, but it will mute the flavors of the soup a bit. Using water allows the flavors to shine through.
Hatch green chilis grow in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, but may not be readily available where you live. I’ve included a link in the recipe for where you can purchase them online, or you can substitute 1/2 of a poblano chile. Hatch green chilis may look like Anaheim peppers, but are much hotter. So don’t be fooled by their appearance.
If you don’t have Asiago cheese, use Parmesan if you must, but know that it’s not the same. Asiago is a wetter cheese than Parmesan, and has better melting characteristics. So go to the extra effort to find some Asiago.
BACON BACON BACON.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped - (about 4 cups)
- 1½ tablespoons garlic paste (I use Gourmet Garden)
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 6 cups water
- 2 pounds Idaho® russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced - (about 6 cups)
- 1 roasted Hatch green chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (or substitute ½ roasted poblano chile)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 scallions, sliced into 1-inch segments including the dark green stems
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated Asiago cheese
- Garnish: Chives, finely chopped (optional)
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. I use a Le Creuset pot. Add the chopped leeks and sauté, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook another minute. Some light browning on the bottom of the pot is completely normal.
- Stir in the wine and scrape up any browning of the bottom of the pot. There's a lot of flavor packed in there. Cook only until the wine is absorbed, 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the water, potatoes, chile, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, salt, and black pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender without falling apart.
- Remove the bay leaf, and stir in the scallions and heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with chopped chives if desired, and add a little grated Asiago to serve.