by Bridget O’Donnell
Last month PPLD’s What’s Cooking Blog extended the invitation to submit reviews for cookbooks and recipes that aren’t found in the library’s collection. On a cool October morning respectively following this announcement a serendipitous recipe-exchange graciously provided the inspiration for this blog entry.
Potato Leek Soup is something I never imagined myself making (or enjoying). However, despite eagerly welcoming the opportunity to try something new, there was one little caveat. While most of the ingredients listed in the recipe were already staples in our diet, leeks were a mystery. How had this locally grown vegetable inconspicuously evaded my attention for so long? With a little help from the omnipotent Google and the Mid-Hudson Library System I learned that leeks have numerous health benefits and can be considered a superfood. Classified as an Allium, they’re often described as the mildest, sweetest member of the onion family. Brief narratives introducing cooks and their interpretation of said recipe assured me that potatoes and leeks (like bread & butter, peanut butter & jelly and, salt & pepper) were a classic combination; that additional ingredients can be added but, this duo can more or less stand alone. Countless potato and leek soup recipes seemed to validate this claim. Websites like Allrecipes.com and Taste of Home suggested alternat[iv]e ingredients, additional cooking instructions and reviews. Cookbooks, like Joy of Cooking and Splendid Soups devoted entire ‘chapters’ to leeks. Within these ‘chapters,’ instructions for traditional use, preparation, and cooking methods complimented a basic recipe with possible variations and, lists of compatible ingredients. This insight gave me a better idea how to substitute or adjust the quantities and seasonings to accommodate our personal preferences. With the leeks cleaned and cut as instructed in V is for Vegetables, the curated ingredients and measuring utensils were arranged near a large pot on the stovetop… Many thanks to the recipe’s contributor, Chris W.; it was Soup-er[b]!
Title of Cookbook:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the primary source for my gifted recipe. In lieu, the basic “Leek and Potato Soup” recipe found in Splendid Soups on page 190 can be referenced for ingredients and instructions. Additional ingredients listed the gifted recipe include: garlic, carrots, sausage links and, heavy cream.
Author of Cookbook:
Name credited on gifted recipe: Peter Mostachetti; author of Splendid Soups: James Peterson.
What prompted you to check out this cookbook?
Someone suggested I try leeks using this recipe. The following week they handed me a copy of the recipe.
What did you like about this cookbook?
- The recipe doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients.
- Most ingredients are staples in our home and usually available without making a special trip to the store.
- It seemed like a flexible recipe (“exact ratios don’t seem to matter much.” Splendid Soups) so a number of variations could be possible with small modifications:
- heavy cream is optional, omitting this makes a dairy free soup.
- substituted ingredients easily make this soup vegetarian or vegan.
- And, if there had been leftovers or we wanted to experiment to avoid eating the same dish all week, Ultimate Veg (pg. 86) and Splendid Soups suggest using this recipe as the base for other soups and purees.
What didn’t you like about this cookbook?
The gifted recipe recommends adding sausage removed from the casing. This can be challenging depending on what’s available, at least it was for me. And, because my execution felt a little labored and unconventional I gave in half-way through the package of sausage. Using an improvised technique I decided to lean on my artistic license and the next day found uncased/ground sausage at the grocery store. In my opinion, this is more economical and a HUGE time-saver. Just keep in mind this will change the texture of your soup and may require additional spices depending on your tastes.
Favorite recipe (that you tried from the cookbook):
Potato Leek Soup
Did you alter the recipe or make any substitutions? If so, what were they?
- My measurements were a little more liberal because I wanted to use ingredients that might have gone bad otherwise.
- Instead of chicken broth I substituted vegetable scrap broth because we needed to make room in the freezer.
- Uncasing the sausage was a little tedious and bit time consuming so I decided to leave half of the package in the casing and slice it into coin-sized pieces. The next day I browned and added ground sausage.
- Russet, red and new potatoes were used and, I omitted the heavy cream (the potatoes made the soup creamy enough).
Would you recommend this cookbook?
Yes. This was definitely one of the easier Potato Leek Soup recipes I found.
Have a photo of your completed dish, your creation mid-recipe, or happy eaters you’d like to share?