Soup is comfort. It is also incredibly easy. Using leeks – which are currently in season! – and pairing with other veg in my fridge that was soon to go off, I whipped together this delicious recipe. Read on to find out how you can do it too…
Yesterday I took my bike out for a 10 mile ride through London. The streets were spooky empty, and when I got off my bike for a brief walk, crossing Millenium Bridge, I felt simultaneously like I owned the city and like I was not welcome there. It was silent, the Tate Modern towering over me, and the river bank only occupied by runners dashing by. Nothing like a year ago, when I sat in the grass nearby and ate lunch surrounded by school groups giggling and tourists speaking French. I felt deeply uncomfortable, and after 3 weeks of being inside it was not the comforting excursion I had hoped for.
When I came home, my bones and my body were exhausted and I didn’t want to think too hard for dinner. I also wanted something to bring me comfort. SOUP. The obvious answer. But what to make it with…?
Our vegetable box delivery this week included a beautiful long leek. If I had the proper tin, I would have loved to have made a quiche with it. However, I left my quiche pan in California. There was a broccoli head in the fridge on its last leg, and a loaf of sourdough I’d made at the end of last week on the counter. I am very good at making meals from the things available to me, piecing together ingredients to throw a delicious meal on the table. I hate food waste, so a vegetable just about to go off is a challenge for me. So, I gathered.
First, I took my head of broccoli and separated the stems from the florets. I cut as close the the floret as possible, and then chopped the stems into circles, if you have a fresh broccoli it would help as well to peel off the tough outer skin (~and save it for a veg broth~). You can see in the image above on the cutting board what that looked like. I kept the florets separate, saving them for later. If you cook them with the rest of the ingredients, they would just turn to mush.
Then, I chopped up my leek. Getting fine pieces doesn’t necessarily matter as it will all be blended anyway. I cut circles up the white and light green bits of my leek and then saved the dark green tops for a veg stock I was going to make.
Now, hold onto the leek for a minute and peel and cut up your potatoes. I cut them again into rounds and those rounds in half. They were fairly small potatoes already so there wasn’t much need to really worry about how small I cut them up. Meanwhile, Aaron helped by taking a carrot, peeling (saving all the peels for… yep, veg stock) and chopping it fairly fine. Done, that is all the veg we will be using.
The pot was on the stove heating up with oil already, and I chucked the leek in, mixing it about so that it was evenly coated and began to smell. You don’t want to cook them too long ! Then, I added the broccoli stems (NO FLORETS YET), carrots and potatoes and squeezed a garlic clove into it. I let those cook while I heated the kettle and prepared a bouillon from the powder broth I am using at the moment.
I should be better at measuring and proportions, but alas I am not. I used about 700mL of the broth, just enough to cover the vegetables. The vegetables were 1 small carrot, 3 small potatoes, 1 head of broccoli, 1 leek, 1 clove of garlic. I will add more garlic next time I make this, because I am a garlic fiend, but if that’s not your thing then it is up to you. This was a good proportion as far as flavours went, able to taste the leek without it being overwhelming and the soup got the colour from the broccoli without being too green.
This simmered, with the lid partially open, for about 15 minutes (until the potatoes and stems were soft). In the meantime I prepared the sourdough croutons.
I’ve been using the Tartine bakery cookbook as my breadmaking Bible. It has helped me to create two beautiful sourdough loaves, and will help me to perfect and create many more. Until I feel I have the recipe down to a T, I will not share it here. I am still learning the secrets of bread making. The chemical properties of yeast, the reactions of adding ingredients in certain orders, timing for bulk fermentation, and how to fold and pull the perfect boule, without it falling apart when transferring it to the banneton. If none of that makes sense to you, then you have not fallen victim to the quarantine trend, and I should say your wallet is probably thankful for it. My flatmate has, over the months of my living here, taught me the beauty of a home-risen pizza crust and home baked burger buns, and I’ve taken it the step further to full blown loaves.
That little bit of loaf had gone stale, and I didn’t have the energy to make a full new loaf over the past few days. It is a days-long endeavour, requiring 8 hours of rising and 4 hours of proofing and mixing and levain making, depending on the ambient temperature of your home. Tartine Bread reminded me in the last chapter that stale bread serves just as many purposes as fresh baked bread.
Step one, behind preheating the oven to 400ºF/200ºC, is to cut the stale leftover loaf into 1″ thick slices. From here you can either rip or keep cutting into crouton shaped cubes. I placed mine into a mixing bowl to add some flavour over top.
Drizzling 2Tbsp of olive oil over top is one option. You can also take it further, adding herbs to get a flavourful crouton. I have not got a premixed herbes de provence pack on hand, so I made my own using dried thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, salt, and sage. Any of those herbs, or none, or just salt will work beautifully. I put three or four pinches over top, and tosssed the croutons in the oil-herb mix.
They get laid out evenly onto a baking tray and tossed into the oven for about 10 minutes. Check on them, and if you notice that they are cooking unevenly, mix them about on the tray some.
Now, back to our soup
The soup has been cooking for about 15 minutes, and by now the potatoes and broccoli stems should be soft. It is time to add in the florets. Cut them up a bit smaller than the full florets that they are, and toss them into the soup pot, stirring them in. They only need to cook for about 5 minutes. I brought the soup back up to a boil at this point, to ensure the broccoli got cooked fully and fast ! Then the heat went off all together.
As always goes with my soup recipes, I will recommend my amazing hand immersion blender, but if you have not got one of these you can spoon the soup out into a blender a bit at a time. Long story short, you want to blend all of the vegetables up until they are one big soup pot worth of soupy leeky potatoey goodness. Once blended, I added some fresh ground pepper, salt, and a bit of the leftover herbes de provence mix from the croutons, stirring it into the soup. A spoonful of Oatly crème fraîche or paprika would be delicious additions to this soup.
The croutons have come out of the oven (I will admit humbly that I completely burnt some of mine), and the soup has been blended. It might be nice to prepare this soup in advance and let it sit so that the flavours fully infuse into one another, or you could eat while still boiling hot like Aaron and I did.
We topped the soup with more pepper, some olive oil, and those delicious fresh croutons. One bowl = stomachless FULL.
Voilà, another delicious soup. The recipe below does not contain the crouton recipe – see above in the blog post to get that (as it is so so simple!)
Broccoli, Leek, Potato Soup
1 large leek
1 head of broccoli, stems and florets separated
3-4 small potatoes
1 small carrot
700 mL (3 cups) vegetable broth
1-2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1. Cut the broccoli into stems and florets. Reserve the florets for later. Cut off or peel the tough outer skin of the broccoli stem and cut into rounds.
2. Chop the leek, potato, and carrot. The carrot should be finely chopped. Heat oil in a pot.
3. Add the leek to the oil first, cooking for about 3 minutes until softened, stirring often.
4. Add the broccoli stems, carrot and potatoes, mixing in with the leek. Crush garlic cloves into the mix.
5. Pour vegetable broth over the vegetables, and stir together. Add fresh ground pepper and salt. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, lid half open, until stems and potatoes are soft.
6. Bring to a boil, add the broccoli florets (cut or torn into smaller pieces), and cook for 5 minutes.
7. Turn off heat and blend, either using immersion blender in the pot or spooning carefully bit by bit into a blender.
8. Serve in bowls. Add olive oil, homemade croutons, dreid herbs, salt, paprika, and/or Oatly crème fraîche to serve.
What is your favourite soup? Let me know how this works out for you in the comments below, and what soup you would like me to make next. Hope you are all staying well and healthy.