Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spiced Leek Soup

This morning when I woke up it was -2˚F. Now don’t get me wrong, I love cold weather, mostly because it gives me an excuse to eat huge amounts of comfort food.  But, -2˚F?  This is ridiculous, time to pull out the big guns. As I mentioned before, my kitchen is a sad, appliance-less, wall-less, heat-less wasteland so I am off to commandeer my aunt’s kitchen (thanks Aunt Libby!).  Pulling on my boots I struggle out the door, food processor under one arm, knife roll strapped to my back, purse filled with ingredients I picked up from the farmers market on Saturday.  The result? This soup: super rich and as smooth as velvet with a touch of spice.  One spoonful is enough to warm you, body and soul.  Don’t believe me?  Give it a try.

Base: Chicken Veloueté
2 qt chicken stock (preferably homemade)
3 fl oz clarified butter or vegetable oil (see note)

White Mirepoix
1 oz diced onion (about ½ onion)
1 oz diced leek (about the white portion of one large leek)
1 oz diced celery (about one stalk)
1 oz diced parsnips (about one small parsnip)

4 oz all-purpose flour

Sachet d’epices ( Containing: 2 parsley stems, 1/8 t thyme, 1/8 t cracked black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, and one garlic clove)
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

1. Heat the clarified butter on medium heat in a stock pot, add the white mirepoix and cook until the onions are limp (12-15 minutes).  Don’t let them brown; a tinge of gold is OK.  

2. Turn the heat to medium low and add the flour.  Stir well.  Make sure to keep it from clumping around the edge of the pot. This will form a roux.  Cook until the roux turns a blonde color (about 10-12 minutes).  Make sure to keep the roux moving so that it doesn’t scorch!

3. Add the chicken stock to the pan in a slow stream, whisking all the while to work out the clumps.  Clumps will form.  Don’t freak out, stick to your whisk they will work themselves out.

     4. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  At the point add your sachet d’espices.  I did not have any cheesecloth on me so I made a sachet by rolling everything tightly in leek leaves tied with cooking twine.  I substituted a few whole peppercorns for crushed: It worked just fine.

    5. Continue to cook for about an hour, skimming when necessary (trust me, it is necessary)
    6. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve (or cheesecloth).  At this point you can store your Chicken Velouté in the fridge overnight, if not, keep warm on the stove and skip the first step of the soup instructions.


    Note: Clarified butter is whole butter that has been heated until the butterfat and milk solids separate.  Clarified butter can be cooked at a higher temperature than whole butter.  To make: heat butter over low heat until foam rises to the surface and the milk solids drop to the bottom, the remaining butterfat becomes clear.  Skim the surface of foam and spoon the clarified butter into another container, be careful not to disrupt the milk solids on the bottom of the pan (they will look like a cloudy film). 

    Spiced Leek Soup

    2 qt Chicken Velouté
    2 T Clarified butter or vegetable oil
    3 Parsnips, peeled and diced
    ½ Onion, finely chopped
    ½ c Dry White Wine
    ¾ c Chicken Stock
    Sachet d’epices (Containing: 5 black peppercorns, 1 clove garlic, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 inch sprig of rosemary, 1t whole cloves)

    1. If you chilled your Chicken Velouté overnight poor enough chicken stock or water to just film the bottom of a stock pot, heat on medium.  Return the Chicken Velouté to the pot (it will be a jelly-like consistency) and whisk until it returns to a silky texture. Bring to a boil and then return to Medium Low, keep an eye on it).  Bringing to a boil is for sanitation reasons.
    2. In a skillet heat the clarified butter on medium heat, add the parsnips and onion, cook until the onion begins to soften.
    3. Increase the heat to medium high and add the white wine, cook until almost all the liquid is gone.
    4. Add the chicken stock and the Sachet d’epices, reduce the head to medium low and simmer, covered, until the parsnips are tender and aromatic (about 10-12 minutes).

    5. Remove from heat and poor into a food processor (remember to remove the Sachet d’epices!  In fact, just toss it into the Chicken Velouté pot).  Pulse until a pulpy mess, add water if it dries out too much.  Whisk this mixture back into the Chicken Velouté until incorporated.
    6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, this melds all the flavors together.  Taste.  At this point you might wish to add more white pepper, salt, or ground cloves.
    7. Strain once more through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and serve hot (or chilled) in bows.  Garnish with chives, celery leaves, or a sprinkling of ground cloves.

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