Thursday, January 29, 2009

We're No Vegans, but...

A quick peek in my fridge/freezer and you'll find a half dozen quail, 1 smoked ham hock, 4 pounds of lamb shoulder, a coupla pounds of cryo-ed Benton's bacon, a pound or so of La Quercia pancetta (, chicken stock, duck confit, duck fat and a big hunk of guanciale (also from La Quercia). To say nothing of 3 year-old parmesan, 2 kinds of pecorino, some goat cheese, and the fixings for a delicious fondue. Yeah, I know - I'm running low.

So what's an unabashed omnivore to do? Well, how about a vegan dinner with home baked sourdough, roasted broccoli and braised fennel, and an entree of potato and leek soup - no, not Vichyssoise (which is cold cream-based leek and potato soup), but hot potato/leek soup, made with nothing but leeks, potatoes, garlic, olive oil, water, salt and pepper. Takes all of about an hour to put together if you're somewhat organized, and here's what you do...

Start with a pound of leeks and clean them really well - but you knew that, otherwise you'll be eating sand. Cut up the leeks and start sweating them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (sweating means just what it sounds like - let 'em wilt, but without any color). Add a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic. While this is going on, peel and cube (1" cubes are good) a pound of russet or yukon gold potatoes. Throw them in the pot, cover with water, add salt and pepper, and boil gently till the potatoes fall apart. You can help them along with the side of a wooden spoon. Back to the salt - taste and add more - it'll need it. Potatoes absorb salt like that Star Trek villain that sucked the salt out of people in the episode called The Man Trap. So add more. Don't worry - it still won't be as much salt as is in that bag of chips. Ladle into warm soup bowls - (by the way, if you're serving hot soup, warm up the bowls - it's the little things that count). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and serve with that crusty bread.

And of course, if you're the cook, you can always snack on a hunk of parmesan while all this cooking is going on - what do you think I am, a vegan or something?


  1. Wow, way to reveal your inner Trekkie. And the leeks at our store are filthy, sand for days. Also, Rebecca will be jealous of your soup, that might be the one thing she could every day for eternity.

  2. Potato leek soup is like crack to me.

    And I bet 10-1 you guys went out for pizza an hour later.