Tuesday, 29 October 2013

1 Potato, 2 Potato, Hot Potato- Soup!

Zuppa di Patate, Porro, Bresaola e Aneto
Potato, Leek, Bresaola Ham & Dill Soup

So it is cold, you are home late, want a little something to warm you up but not a big, heavy meal... the thing to do is to open a can of soup- right? Wrong! Oh please- nobody is so exhausted or pushed for time that they need to resort to such awful, processed food- seriously! Am I ranting? Maybe a little. Sorry. I will be calm now and tell you how to make a delicious real soup in just 20 minutes. Deal?

I made this yummy soup out of 2 potatoes, 2 slices of Bresaola ham, about 4" of leek, a quarter stick of celery, a little milk and some fresh dill and chives. There is very little fat in it, no artificial flavoring and I promise you that it will be so tasty and satisfying, you will think twice about opening a can again next time...

So- first things first! I scrubbed the potatoes nice and clean, cut them into quarters and put them into a saucepan with enough milk to cover them by an inch or so. I added salt, pepper, a bay leaf, a little nutmeg and a hint of cayenne and brought it to the boil, then reduced the heat to a low simmer and let it bubble away gently for the next 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I got busy with the other ingredients- the first being the Bresaola ham, which I cut first into thin strips and then into small flakes. These went into a dry frying pan, where they were stirred and roasted for 4-5 minutes until they became crispy, crunchy and dry. Obviously you can use any other ham or even bacon- whatever you like best, but something lean that will add a bit of crunch and a smokey flavor is what works best. I set the crispy Bresaola flakes to one side and turned my attention to the other ingredients...

The next thing that went into the hot pan was the thinly sliced leek, to which I added a light drizzle of olive oil. I let it sizzle for just a minute or so, whilst I finely chopped a handful of dill and grated the quarter stick of celery in order to reduce the cooking time- clever, eh?

I added these to the leek, stirred it through quickly and then deglazed the pan with enough hot water to cover the base and to boil everything together in just as much water as was necessary- this gave me a nice, intense broth to add to the soup and to give it a great flavor base.

After 15 minutes of boiling, I poured off the milk, which had become wonderfully flavorful through having the peel of the potatoes still in there, through a coffee filter into a bowl, just to be sure to remove any sand that may have still been on the peel (you never know). I then poured it back into the saucepan and added the contents of the frying pan.

The next thing I did was to squeeze the potato pieces through a ricer- a very practical way to do this as the peel remained in the ricer whilst the soft potato came through in a nice, fine mash- perfect to add to the milk and broth and to create our soup out of!

One thing you do not want to do with potato soup or mashed potatoes for that matter, is to put them into a blender or any other high-speed machine- this will guarantee that whatever you are cooking will turn into glue! Don't do it! Just stir the potatoes back into the broth with a whisk and they will soon disintegrate and become smooth and creamy all by themselves... well ok, maybe you will need to give them a bit of "elbow grease" as they say in England and whisk for a while- but nothing too dramatic! The high speeds of the machines will spin all of the starch out of the potato though and that is what becomes glutinous and not so nice... just sayin' :-)

All you need to do now is to fish out that bay leaf and to adjust the soup. It may well be too thick - in which case you can add more hot water or milk. It may need a little more flavor- but hold back on the salt, as you still have that salty ham to add, remember... add a little nutmeg if necessary- that is something that always goes well with leek and potatoes.

The final assembly happens when you serve the soup up of course- meaning that once you have poured it into your bowl, a generous sprinkle of chives, a few sprigs of dill, a couple of tablespoons of those crispy ham flakes and some coarsely ground black pepper can now be added- yum! That should be enough flavor for you! It certainly was for me... and it sure was a comforting treat! 

Opening a can may have taken 10 minutes less time and been a little less work- but really... you deserve better! And you can do it- so please do, do it... and enjoy! 

No comments:

Post a Comment