Wednesday, April 1, 2015

creamy leek potato soup

 


Creamy leek potato soup is not your average 'potato soup.'

Did you notice that the title is "creamy LEEK potato soup,' NOT 'creamy POTATO leek soup?'

That's because LEEKS play more of a star role in this delicious soup, which makes sense because they have a lot more flavor than a potato.





I've made Ina Garten's Potato Leek soup for years . . . and it's quite delicious; but it's somewhat time-consuming to prepare and calls for more ingredients (like arugula, white wine, Parmesan, and creme fraiche).

So I turned to my favorite, trusted Cook's Illustrated Cookbook for their Potato Leek Soup recipe, and discovered the one that I'm sharing with you today.




I LOVE that it's easier to prepare, but best (and most) of all - it's delicious!

It's a 'less work' AND 'less ingredient' recipe that yields LOTS of flavor! Sounds like a great combination to me!





One of the things that I enjoy about Cook's Illustrated recipes is that I've never tried one that wasn't amazing . . . AND they always give an explanation before every recipe as to WHY their recipes work.

Here's what they share about their Creamy LEEK Potato Soup . . .

Why this recipe works
Most versions of this soup are gluey, and drown the potato and leek flavor due to an over-abundance of cream. We learned that over-whipping the potatoes in the blender causes them to leach too much starch and turn gluey. By using fewer potatoes than you'd find in most recipes (we opted for russets because they broke down well), we lessened the amount of starch and thus the risk of glueyness. And instead of tossing out the leeks' dark green parts, we simmered them in broth to give our soup potent leek flavor. We added a slice of bread when pureeing our soup to help thicken it without masking the flavor as cream would.





Ingredients
4 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, sliced thin (4 cups), and washed thoroughly; dark green parts halved, cuts into 2-inch pieces, and washed thoroughly *see photos below
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 small russet potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
*I prefer to leave the skin on
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme or tarragon
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, lightly toasted and torn into 1/2-inch pieces




Preparation
Bring dark green leek pieces, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solid to extract as much liquid as possible; set aside.
Discard solids in strainer and rinse out saucepan.

Melt butter in now empty saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in sliced leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened about 10 minutes.


Increase heat to high, stir in reserved broth, potato, bay leaf, and thyme and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add toasted bread and simmer until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.

Use the lowest setting on your toaster to dry out the bread without over-browning it. 

Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme. Transfer half of soup to blender and process until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.

You can also use an immersion blender to process the soup directly in the pot.

Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining soup.

Return soup to saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a garnish.

A garnish is essential to add texture and flavor to this soup. In addition to fried onions or leeks, we also like to serve this soup with crispy bacon bits, a dollop of sour cream, freshly chopped chives, and Garlic Chips or Garlic Croutons.

courtesy the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

 






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Monday, March 30, 2015

a Spring-inspired table . . . ranunculus, grass, and hand-blown brown eggs



I crazy love Spring for all that it brings . . . mild weather, gorgeous flowers, and inspiration every where you turn.

Spring is a great excuse to buy EXTRA fresh flowers every week. They're like sunshine to me, and so often inspire my table settings and decor.




My Spring table this year is inspired by all natural elements . . .

patches of tall green grass,
hand-blown brown eggs stacked in a petite basket that was passed down to me by my sweet grandma,
small, white pitchers filled with pastel pink & PEACH ranunculus, 
and one of my antique French bread boards.










I'm in love with its simplicity . . .
a soft color palette
all natural elements
and a collection of mismatch white dishes 






I added a few fun and whimsical touches that I know our little ones and my niece and nephews will love . . .
a large golden egg
and bunny-shaped rose water sugar cookies tied with ribbon at every place setting.









I hope that this season's bounty finds it's way onto your table settings . . . and into your home, too!

Happy, Happy Spring!





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Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Karen's Up on the HillThree Kids and a FishBetween Naps on the Front Porch, Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co, Home Remedies,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweThe Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Sunflower Supper Club



Friday, March 27, 2015

a fun & simple Spring centerpiece




Spring is finally here!

We've been enjoying amazing weather . . . mild days and cool nights.

I love this kind of weather!  It reminds of a Fall, but with bright greens and lots of flowers.

Our days are filled with sunshine and beautiful clouds . . . perfect for vibrant salads and refreshing lemonades; and because our evenings are still on the cool side, we're enjoying Spring-inspired soups like herb & chicken meatballs in home-made broth and creamy potato and leek soup with home-made smoked paprika croutons and fresh herbs . . . YUM!

And what's Spring without fresh flowers!?





If you follow me, then you know my dining room table and kitchen island always have fresh flowers!

Although I've been enjoying gorgeous flowers, I'm also crushing on green grass this Spring! 





I bought several shallow dishes of grass from our local market to use in my Spring decor this year.

Did you know that grass is a symbol of rebirth?

I assembled these fun & simple Spring centerpieces using hand-blown brown eggs, colorful tinfoil covered chocolate candy eggs, and grass.




I love their simplicity . . . and hope that I've inspired you to create a simple Spring-inspired centerpiece for your home, too.






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Thank you so much for stopping by!
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Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Karen's Up on the HillThree Kids and a FishBetween Naps on the Front Porch, Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co, Home Remedies,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweThe Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Sunflower Supper Club



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a plants vs zombies birthday celebration



Our sweet little guy, Ford, is 6-years-old today!

He is the last of our 4 children to celebrate a birthday, so he's always beyond excited when his special day finally arrives!!

Ford asked for a Plants vs Zombies - inspired birthday party this year! It's been his favorite Android game since his cousin introduced it to him last December.

If you're a fan too, then you'll appreciate all the party details, especially his birthday cake!









We decided to host this year's celebration with a few of our close friends and family at a local Pizza Parlor. It's one of our favorite places to enjoy great pizza and fun games.  I'm a big fan of their exposed brick walls . . . and the private party room that's enclosed in glass is cool, too!

Since we didn't host at our home, I made party decorations that were 'contained' and easy to transport . . .

plants vs zombies centerpieces
red balloons with hanging zombies
buckets for utensils
festive green & white chevron paper straws  
bottles of brain juice!
peashooter PEAS
fun & festive green & white goody bags





 




We had to MOST fun decorating Ford's cake!

I wanted it to look like a 3-D edible version of the game!







I searched on-line for 3-D Plants vs Zombies puzzles, and found a few on Amazon. Here is a link to the one that I bought, here. I used the house, tree, gate, and characters to decorate the cake so that it would look like the actual game. 

The grass was made using "perfect crusting buttercream" and Wilton's cake decorating tip #233. Here's a great video on how to pipe grass, here

And finally, I bought the chocolate rocks from Powell's Candy Shoppe! I used them to help define the garden borders . . . and decorate around the house and fence (smile).









Since Ford knows more about the game than I do, he decorated the cake with the Plants vs Zombies pieces. 

It was so much fun watching him and his older sister strategically place each and every PLANT and zombie. 







My favorite part of the whole day was when Ford hugged me for a really LONG time and thanked me for a great day.  It's moments like those that make the day extra special . . . (and all the extra efforts worth it!).

He melts my heart with his affection and loving ways! I am one BLESSED Mom!

Happy Birthday, my sweet Ford!
I love you,  Mom





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Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Karen's Up on the HillThree Kids and a FishBetween Naps on the Front Porch, Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co, Home Remedies,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweThe Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Sunflower Supper Club






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