November 12, 2008

Roasted Potato Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots

Well, I am at the start of day 3 of "chicken watch". The whole chicken I put in my fridge to thaw over 2 whole days ago is still frozen. I have hope that it will thaw for tomorrow night's dinner, but I don't want to be disappointed again. The ice crystals are beginning to get softer. My chicken no longer resembles the texture of a bowling ball, but now, a basketball that has been forgotten out in the snow. Hey, that counts as improvement in my book.

Once again, I find my self rearranging my menu due to my stupid, frozen chicken. If chicken wasn't so prone to harmful bacteria, I would just float the darn thing in warm water and call it a day. Alas, chicken germs skeeve that is really not an option. I will just be patient and thaw it correctly. Ugh.
The good news is that this is another vegetarian dish. My husband will be so thrilled! Seriously, he will have no room to complain since a) it is a Barefoot Contessa recipe, and b) it has booze, cheese, cream, and fried things floating in it. Also, I have homemade bread dough rising...I love fresh, warm bread with soup. Hardly a sacrifice.

Once again, this comes to me by my new cookbook Back to Basics. I was happy that I found a copy of the recipe online, so I can just cut/paste the recipe from the web. I get cranky when I have to type a lot of words and stuff.

I did find 4 cups of homemade chicken stock in my freezer. Unfortunately, that is truly the last of the chicken stock. I am officially and totally out. I thought I was out a few days ago...but I wasn't...but now I am. Really. Out. The recipe calls for 6-7 cups of stock, so I need to do some creative cooking. I have 1 cup of boxed vegetable stock so that makes 5 cups total liquid. That is close enough for me...I will just supplement the extra cup of stock with good old-fashioned water to equal 6 total cups. I really need that stupid, frozen chicken to thaw so I can replenish my chicken stock stores.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
4 cups chopped leeks (4 leeks), white and light-green parts, cleaned of all sand
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces crème fraiche
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish (see note)
Crispy shallots, optional (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted.
Remove the pan from the oven and place over two burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan. In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the purée into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to purée the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, crème fraIche, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasoning.
When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and the Parmesan cheese. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan cheese and crispy shallots, if using.

Crispy Shallots

1 1/2 cups of olive oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Reduce heat to low, add shallots slowly to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

The Result:
Well, I am not a big fan of this dish. I made it properly...I just did not like the flavor. It was overly bitter due to the peppery arugula and very winey. We ended up mixing in some white wine vinegar to cut the bitterness. The vinegar did improve the flavor...but not enough to really like this dish. The husband said it tasted like pureed veggies (a la baby food). Luckily, the boy had pears and PB & J. Overall, a huge disappointment.
We garnished it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, Parmigano Reggiano, and the Crispy Shallots. The shallots were the best part about this soup, by far. There were a lot of quality ingredients that went into this dish (with a lot of work, I might add) so it is very surprising that it did not deliver on flavor. Ina! I am shocked!!! Also, I am surprised at how thin it actually was...considering all the potatoes. My guess is that it will thicken overnight in the fridge. I am willing to try it tomorrow again for lunch since soup sometimes tastes better the second day. That is the last chance though, if I still don't like it the dogs are going to feast on soup.

Meanwhile, I did make an excellent side salad to go with our soup. Diced pears, toasted walnuts, salad greens, and my blue cheese dressing. YUM! The salad dressing was awesome. I would say that this salad is now easily my new favorite salad. I am glad that I still have all the components so I can have it again tomorrow.


claireknightly said...

Wow...I've never heard of a subpar Ina recipe. I'm shocked!

Erin said...

I made this recently (about to blog about it), and I ended up taking the roasted veggies out about 1/2 way through, because I was afraid they were going to be too brown. I boiled them in the stock to finish cooking. I also did about 1/2 the arugula, which might have helped. Not my favorite soup, but I think the changes did help a bit.