CSA 2008, Week Twenty.

The deeper we get into fall, the more our CSA box begins to consist more and more of items that have to be rooted out from within the earth.  Even thought this week’s haul included a few leafy items, I’m getting the feeling that they’re going to slowly disappear, replaced with more and more root vegetables.  This week’s box held the following:

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Pie pumpkin
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

potato-leek-soup1Potato and leek is a fantastic combination, and one I decided to put to work in a soup.  Keith is particularly fond of soups, and they’re something I make very infrequently, so I started thumbing through my cookbooks for a recipe.  Tom Colicchio‘s Think Like A Chef has a straightforward one for a diced potato-leek soup; the recipe calls for a quarter-pound of slab bacon, and I can stress enough how important it is to get a nice piece from your butcher.  (In fact, I would even encourage increasing the amount of bacon maybe to three-quarters of a pound, but that might just be my bacon addiction talking.)  I had purchased a fat piece of Niman Ranch bacon from Formaggio Kitchen, so I was really looking forward to tossing it into the soup.

Something else to think about: Colicchio’s recipe calls for chicken stock, which I didn’t have on hand.  I’m with Michael Rulman on this; if you don’t have homemade stock, opt for using water rather than canned or boxed, both of which are basically salty, chicken-themed water.  Chicken stock is easy enough to make if you’ve enough time and bones, but if you don’t, just use water.  I wanted to richen things up a bit, so I used one and a half cups of milk (1%, since that was what was in the fridge) and one and a half cups of water instead of three cups of stock.

Diced Potato-Leek Soup, from Think Like a Chef
Makes four to six portions.

4 leeks, white part only, washed well and trimmed
¼ pound slab bacon
4 Idaho or other starchy potatoes (3 to 4 pounds), peeled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  1. Split the leeks lengthwise, then slice into thin semi-circles.  Cut the bacon and potatoes into a small dice.
  2. Heat the oil in  large pot over medium heat until it slides easily across the bottom.  Add the bacon and cook until it is rendered but not yet crispy, about two minutes.  Add the leeks, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks just begin to soften, about three minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the potatoes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes soften slightly, three to five minutes more.
  3. Add enough stock to moisten the vegetables, about half a cup.  Bring soup to a simmer, then add another half cup.  Continue gradually adding the stock, half a cup at a time, until it has all been added.  Gently simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender (about ten minutes from the time you began adding stock), then stir in the butter and chives.  Add salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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