Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NEW WEEKLY POST - ONE POT WEDNESDAYS!

It’s been so long since I posted a regular meal here on Simple Meals for One, most of you are probably thinking I eat nothing except desserts.  Not so dear friends!  It just happens that recently I’ve been eating out a lot, which means that not only do I not have to cook meals on those particular evenings, but I usually haul home a box of leftovers that feed me at least one more meal, sometimes two. 

If you follow along on my Old Biddy blog you’ll have some sense of where I’ve been eating lately and it hasn't been in my own kitchen.   Although I truly love the actual eating when I'm out, one of the best things about eating out is that I get a lot of really good ideas to bring back to my own kitchen: pizza ideas from the pizza and wine pairing dinner a couple of weeks ago; recipes from the chef at the wine pairing dinner at Giant Eagle last week; or maybe a little French-style bistro meal from the menu at l’Albotros. Not to mention ideas that pop into my email box from King Arthur Flour or Culinate or Eating Well.

So many ideas and so few days to cook!


Crock pots sitting on a shelf waiting for
cooler weather.
Luckily, with the arrival of fall my calendar has slowed down a bit and I’m feeling the tug of the kitchen again. This time of year I drag the slow cooker down from the shelf and begin longing for meals of soups and stews and pizzas and casseroles that warm up not only the kitchen but my soul as well.

So welcome to my new weekly addition to the blog of One Pot Wednesdays. A soup pot, a slow cooker, a pizza peel or a wok are all that’s required to turn a few ingredients into a hearty meal for one.

We’ll brush up some techniques such as our knife skills, too, because many one pot meals require some slicing and dicing as prep work. The better we’re able to wield a good sharp knife, the easier this will be.  Some hints on buying equipment for making One Pot meals will show up here too.  Got questions?  Feel free to ask them as a comment and I'll try to reply accurately. 

But enough chatter, let's get rolling! 

Our First One Pot Wednesday – Classic Leek and Potato Soup
Last year I posted a recipe for a big pot of this soup to my other blog “Old Biddy Loose on the Town”. It was a more complicated version that is absolutely delicious and I would be proud to serve this to company any day of the week – or in fact make this and eat from the pot for several days.

However, here our goal is to simplify recipes to create one that prompts everyone to cook for themselves without having tons of leftovers to deal with later or make it complicated enough that we’ll turn to a can of processed soup instead. The result today is this simple version of the French classic - Leek and Potato Soup.

There is good reason this is a classic. Leeks and potatoes are excellent partners. Potatoes easily take on the subtle flavors of leeks that are a cross between an onion and garlic giving you the best of both from one ingredient. This version is also vegetarian, giving me a good hearty, meat free, weeknight meal. Today I added a sprig of fresh thyme to the pot but you can substitute dill or rosemary for a totally different hint of flavor.
Leeks require a thorough cleaning
to remove sand that grow between
the layers.  Chopping first then washing
is a simple way to achieve the best results.

If you so desire, feel free to top this soup with some shredded cheddar cheese and/or crumbled bacon.

CLASSIC LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

2 teaspoons canola oil
½ medium leek, cleaned well and chopped
½ cup water or vegetable broth (just enough to cover the vegetables)
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sprig of fresh thyme
¼ cup milk or half and half
Chopped chives for garnish

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil over medium heat then add the chopped leeks. Sauté over medium heat until the leeks begin to turn translucent.

Add water, chopped potatoes, thyme sprig, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft but not mushy. Remove the thyme sprig.

Using an immersion blender, blend the potatoes and leeks to desired constancy. (I prefer to leave some chunks in my soup for texture but feel free to blend your soup completely smooth if you desire.)

Add milk or half and half and stir to warm through. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve in a warm soup bowl and garnish with chopped fresh chives.

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