A Culinary Experiment…

See also A Culinary Experiment Update.

Winter looms, and the soup season is soon to be upon us, though the more perceptive among you might have noticed that, here at least, it’s never entirely gone away.

I’m quite partial to leek and potato soup, not least because of its simplicity – leeks, spuds, stock, herbs, seasoning – what’s not to like?

But because the arthritis in my hands has recently gone from inconvenient to WTF???!, peeling ice-cold spuds straight from the fridge is something best avoided, so I wondered – how would it be using Smash instead?

I’ve told you how, ignoring the instructions and cobbling up my own recipe, Smash as mash can be vastly improved, and I use it as a thickening agent occasionally, so why not, I thought, give it a try? No matter how it turned out it would, at least, be quick.

So I did and, workbook at the ready, off to the kitchen I went.

Makes 3 litres.

Ingredients:-

500g leeks, trimmed, quartered lengthways and finely sliced

3 organic Kallo veg stock cubes

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons garlic granules

150g Smash

50g milk granules (Marvel, supermarkets’ own brand, whatever – I generally use Tesco’s)

2 generous tablespoons chopped curly parsley

Knorr Touch of Taste Vegetable, to taste (gives it a slight golden tint as well)

40g clarified butter

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and Schwartz white pepper, to taste

Method:-

This looks like a huge amount of leeks, once cut up but, if I make this again, I’d maybe double the quantity – they cook right down.

So, sweat off the leeks in the melted butter over a low heat until soft and much reduced then – a new tip** – put the stock cubes in among the leeks and leave alone for a few minutes, they’ll soon be soft enough to stir into the leeks.

**You can do this with whatever veg you sweat off, though it’s usually alliums of some sort.

Stir them in, add a litre of boiling water and the basil and garlic, stir well, half-fill the pot with boiling water and set to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so (leeks don’t take long and they were mostly cooked in the butter).

Dissolve the milk granules in 250ml of lukewarm water (they dissolve better than tossing them straight into the pot), then add that to the pot, and using a balloon whisk, whisk in the Smash a little at a time. Don’t worry if it goes lumpy, it’ll smooth out easily.

Check the taste and seasoning, adjusting the former first, with the Touch of Taste, and then do the seasoning – it’ll take more than you might expect.

Add the parsley, add more hot water to around 3 litres (or whatever quantity you’re making), give it one last stir and leave to go cold.

Refrigerate overnight as usual then re-check the taste and seasoning next day after reheating. Adjust with Touch of Taste and/or seasoning, or dilute with milk powder solution as before, as needed.

Changes I’d make:-

As I said, I’d double the quantity of leeks (or increase it by half, at least),** and maybe add a finely-grated carrot too. This is why I want to build up a stock of dehydrated vegetables – with them it would have been so easy to add more flavour.

**In the past I’ve found that allowing the sweated leeks to cool, then blitzing them to a purée in a food processor gives a more intense leek flavour. And I do mean intense – for leek fans only.

If you want a thicker soup, add more Smash.

Was it worth it?

Looked at from a strictly practical point of view, yes. I have a pot of soup for minimum pain and effort – and on a bad day that matters.** A lot. True, it’s pretty average soup, and badly needs the addition of some cannellini beans for protein then, eaten with some bread, the protein content will be acceptable and the beans will add flavour.

**Minimum cost too – part from the leeks everything came from the store cupboards.

And, typing this, I remembered I have some cooked cannellini beans in the freezer. So I’ve taken out 600g, removed 500ml of soup from the pot, put in the block of frozen beans and set it over a low heat to thaw. And promptly forgot about it! It didn’t matter though as one of the beauties of the induction hob is that it never gets any hotter than the set temperature which, in this case, was 60C.

When I’ve taken out the first portion tomorrow I’ll put back the soup I’ve just removed. Job done.

Spoonie rating? Work really is minimal – there’s no real effort in chopping leeks, and whisking in the Smash is likewise very easy – I’m going to be reckless and give it a first – just 1 Spoonie spoon!

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PS: I also made a Cumberland sausage casserole with cider and fruit (apples, sour and sweet cherries, a few dates), but twice now I’ve been in so much pain I’ve crashed while trying to write it up. I’ll try again tomorrow. Update – sorry, but this won’t happen. I’ve been so ill lately that I simply can’t remember the recipe – that’s a first for me, and I’m not happy. It’s very good though, and I shall be making it again, so it will appear. I’m having some tonight, as it happens, so maybe I can figure it out then. We’ll see.

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4 thoughts on “A Culinary Experiment…

  1. now THAT soup is exactly what i’ve been looking for. need to get some milk granules and leeks then all set to go……… wonder how it would be with frozen spuds?i tend to keep a few bags of aunt Bessie’s in as they taste more like the real thing to me.

    • Frozen mash? No problem.

      And the soup is actually very good after an overnight in the fridge. Not as good as with fresh spuds, obviously, but much better than I expected.

      Must try frozen mash.

  2. by the way Ron. can that soup be frozen? with the small appetite i have these days, i dont need much in any one meal. so would like to be able to freeze some.

    • No problem. As long as frozen food – like the mash – has been cooked (or at least brought to boiling point), it can be frozen as normal. All my recipes can be frozen where it’s appropriate – I’ve got a freezer basket full of lamb casserole with apricots, sour cherries and harissa, venison casserole just with the fruit but no harissa, and sausage casserole with cherries, dates, apples and cider (having some of that tonight, though I think it might have been better minus the cider. Not being able to drink I seem to have lost my taste for booze.

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