Saturday, October 16, 2010

Potato Leek Saffron Soup and Golden Beet Soup

I fully embraced Fall this week with two large stockpots of soup; plenty to warm our tummies and still have leftovers for lunch and more for the freezer.

Vellutata di Patate (Potato and Saffron Soup)

This is a recipe from La Spiga restaurant in Seattle, that I found in the Celebrated Chefs, Volume 2 cookbook. Potato-Leek soup (vichyssoise) is a classic, but I liked how saffron and curry powder in this recipe add a heightened touch of sophistication.

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, split, cleaned, and sliced
2 pounds (about 4 large) yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 quarts beal of beef stock or broth
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
2 pinches saffron threads
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Melt butter in stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer 3-5 minutes.

Add all but 1/2 cup of stock to the pan. Add bay and good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer to until potatoes are tender, 12-15 minutes.

While potatoes simmer, warm reserved stock then add saffron. Remove from heat and set aside to steep.

Remove bay leaf from soup, then puree until smooth (immersion blender is great for this!) Add safrron broth, cream, curry powder, and parsley. Reheat, salt to taste, and serve with additional parsley as garnish.

This is the photo from the cookbook. Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't say how to make
that delectable looking garnish, which I assume is saffron oil, but presumably it's just
saffron threads dissolved in olive oil. I didn't do that this time, but I think it's looks
positively bejeweled, and I'd love to try it. I will definitely make this soup again.

Golden Beet Soup
Serves 6 as first course

3 tablespoons butter
1/4 medium/large red onion, diced
dark green part of 1 large leek, sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
4 medium golden beets, peeled and cut into even wedges
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons sherry wine
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Melt butter in large heavy saucepan. Stir in onion and leeks, and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add ginger, lemon, beets, and broth. Bring to boil, then simmer until beets are tender (about 30 minutes.)

Alternatively, roast whole beets. Wrap beets tightly in foil and roast in 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. You should be able to slide a skewere through the foil to test for doneness. Beets can be roasted a day in advance. To make soup, simply slide skin off beets, cut in half, and add with broth. No need to cook, just bring to a boil.

While soup is cooking, mix together parsley and yogurt to make a brightly colored thick paste for garnish.

Puree the soup (an immersion blender works great for this, or use a blender or food processor.) Stir in the sherry then ladel into bowls and garnish with a teaspoon of parsley yogurt.

This photo is by Lisa Hubbard for Bon Appetit magazine. I modified my recipe from the published version to create what is posted above, but the soup was the same visually. The soup in the photo is garnished with a puree of plain, steamed beet greens. This is great if your beets come fresh from the market and you want to use both the root and the greens together.

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