Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Potato and Leek Soup, plus Really Good French Beans

This week is a super-dooper bonus week for the Barefoot Bloggers with a five recipe challenge, all to be posted before the weekend. All except one recipe were things I wanted to try, so I will be making up for the comparative abscence of recent posts with an excess this week. Famine to feast, to say the least.

We are kicking off with the Roasted Potato and Leek Soup. I whipped this up last week when the weather turned a little cold, and a soup seemed to be comforting and restorative. I love potato and leek as a combination and I really love vichyssoise, so I was ready to be blown away by this soup, but unfortunately I wasn't. In truth, it was probably my own fault: the recipe called for 3/4 cup of cream plus 250g of creme fraiche, which is a lot of calories, especially for a mid-week dinner. So I subbed in 250g of plain yoghurt in place of the creme fraiche, and left out the cream altogether. The resulting soup was OK but was certainly not the creamy indulgent fabulousness that some of the other bloggers enjoyed. Next time I will stick with my vichyssoise.

But then came a recipe that I did really love: French String Beans. I always try to include at least one green vegetable with dinner every night, mostly just steamed. This is undeniably fabulously healthy, but it is also a little (OK a lot) dull, and most nights I find myself harrassing the kids to finish their greens. So, a new tastier way with beans is very welcome. This recipe calls for chopping up capsicum and spanish onion into big chunks, then roasting them on high for 15 mins. Meanwhile you top, tail and blanch your beans. Toss both lots of vegetables together and voila, a really good bean dish, which happens to be three vegies now instead of one. Usually, my family isn't mad about capsicum, but they are happy to eat it roasted, because the flavour is mellower and sweeter, just like the onion. This can be served hot or at room temperature, so it also works for the warmer weather ahead. Perfect!
You can find both recipes below. Click here if you want to see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought or if you are interested in launching yourself into fortnightly indulgences thanks to Ina Garten.

Roasted Potato and Leek Soup
from "Back to Basics" by Ina Garten

1kg bintje potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 cups baby rocket, lightly packed
1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
3/4 cup pouring cream
250g creme fraiche
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200C. Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the rocket and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the rocket is wilted.

Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan. In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings. When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan.
French String Beans
from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

500g French string beans, both ends removed
1 red onion, large- diced
1/2 red capsicum, large diced
1/2 yellow capsicum, large diced
Good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 210C. Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for just 4 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When they are cool, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss the onion and capsicumtogether with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, tossing with a spatula from time to time to be sure the vegetables roast evenly.

Just before serving, reheat the string beans in a large saute pan drizzled with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on a platter. Spoon the roasted vegetables over the string beans and serve hot or at room temperature.


kate said...

This is one of my favorite soups, ever. The simplicity of it is it's highest appeal.

Did you know it was a Vichyssoise that caused Anthony Bourdain to fall in love with food???dinglyp

Debinhawaii said...

Hmm...I would have thought the soup would be really good and would have made similar subs to lighten it, you maybe full fat is the way to go. ;-) The beans look and sound really delicious!

ARLENE said...

Ina may not be health conscious, but she does have some incredible recipes. This soup looks wonderful.

Me! said...

Maybe add some cream to the soup to give it a creamy mouthfeel without loading it with cream? It looks good, even if you didn't love it.

Kim said...

Wow - cream and creme fraiche might be too decadent. I can see why wanted to lighten it up. It looks delicious though.

Lisa said...

I just so happen to have two large leeks that I need to use pronto. What better way than your beautiful and delicious sounding soup? My mouth is watering..dinner tonight! :)