After the sugar overload of December, I promised healthier eating in the new year. For me, that usually starts with soup. I love soup, especially soups that fill you up for lunch. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a smooth one made with beans or vegetables and then pureed – no cream required. Other times, I crave a brothy bowl filled with vegetables or beans.
So far in 2019, brothy soups have been the star. I started the year with a wonderful onion soup made with sweet red onions offset by the tang of Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. It was easy and delicious. Cheesy toasts on top made this a perfect lunch.
Cook the Book Fridays’ first recipe from Everyday Dorie this year is another hearty brothy soup: Potato Chowder, Lots of Ways. Dorie Greenspan gives a basic formula along with suggestions on tweaking the ingredients depending on the season as well as other ideas for giving the soup your own flair. Though called potato chowder, the soup includes an almost equal (or maybe greater) amount of alliums. There are onions, leeks, shallots AND garlic. I even used leeks I grew in my garden last summer (they’re storing well in the fridge).
I didn’t have any bacon on hand, but I did have a jar of bacon fat, so that’s what I used to sauté the alliums. Once they’re soft, broth and the requisite potatoes are added to the pot. I had some containers of corn stock in the freezer, made this summer from corn cobs. I thought that would be nice with the bacon undertones. I also added a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning to evoke memories of childhood summers in Maryland. Once the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes), they are mashed in the pot to give the soup some body. You could optionally add some cream, but it didn’t seem necessary. And I’m focusing on less decadent eating for January.
It’s cold outside, but this soup warms you from the inside. The stock was sweet, and the flavor of corn was distinct, more than I expected. It complemented the bacon and Old Bay perfectly. The soup is rather beige, but sliced scallions and chopped parsley added the needed color to the bowl.
This is a perfect recipe to have in your back pocket. The basic ingredients are always on hand, at least at my house, and the ways to vary the pot to use other things in your pantry are limitless. I’m looking forward to having fun with other combinations as the seasons evolve.
To see how others in Cook the Book Fridays dressed up their chowder, check out there links here. And to try it yourself, you can find the recipe in page 63 of Dorie Greenspan’s newest book, Everyday Dorie.
Happy New Year! Greetings from the Arctic Circle! Well, not really, but it sure feels like it. Yesterday, we had a wild storm that left us with nearly a foot of freshly fallen snow and winds that blew the snow into even higher drifts. Today the sun came out, so everything is beautifully sparkly, but the temperatures are dropping rapidly and tomorrow, we’ll be living with a single digit high and a negative double digit low, not counting the expected wind chill factor. Brrrr!
Cold weather doesn’t keep me inside because the dog must go out. She has a natural fur coat, though the snow piled in her favorite spots and our paths to safe walkways frustrate her.
Inside, it’s comfort food weather. We’ve been eating lots of root vegetables, soup, stew, and bread, stick to your ribs fare. Duck-fat potatoes fits right into that line-up.
This hearty side dish couldn’t be easier. First, diced potatoes are parboiled to hasten the cooking. I didn’t bother to peel them. Then, the potatoes are cooked in a few tablespoons of duck fat. The duck fat I had leftover from the Counterfeit Duck Confit was gorgeous, clear, and golden. The potatoes browned beautifully. Salt them halfway through and stir in a few cloves of minced garlic at the end. Delicious! I also tried them with leftover turkey fat from Thanksgiving. Both the duck and turkey fat add a depth that olive oil just does not.
The potatoes require a little attention, some stirring so they don’t stick to the pan and burn. But your undivided attention is not required, so you can prepare the rest of dinner while the potatoes cook. Roasted chicken parts are a simple accompaniment, or some more counterfeit duck confit.
If you’re on the East Coast, stay warm this weekend. Don’t go out if you don’t have to. While you’re home you might as well bake some cookies and perhaps make a batch of duck-fat potatoes!
I might have mentioned that in December, I participated in Whole Foods “12 Days of Cheese”. Each day, a different cheese was on sale for 50% of its regular price. If you tried all 12 cheeses, the prize was… a cheese platter! For someone who loves cheese as much as I do, how could I not do it? It also required a daily trip to Whole Foods, but I also happen to love grocery shopping, so that wasn’t a hardship.
There were some delicious cheeses available. Some were old favorites (Humboldt Fog, Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche, Epoisses), and now I’ve met some new ones (Truffle Gouda). The only problem was the timing. The cheese platter had to be redeemed before New Year’s Day, when the refrigerator still had blocks of several of the daily selections I purchased uneaten. And the cheeses on the cheese platter were rather pedestrian, not nearly as interesting as the flight of 12 days offered. Regardless, it was a fun food adventure even if I don’t need to eat quite so much cheese…