Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Cure . . . and the Preventive

Mississippi has had its second taste of cool. We will fluctuate warm, cool, cold until most everyone is sick. I don't get sick often, nor do my children or husband. I have a theory about keeping a stable core temperature that has little to do with basal body temperature. The core temperature is much more wishy-washy than science. It has to do with naturally adjusting to the temperature changes and finding ways to warm the inside - either physically or emotionally. You caught me, I am truly weird. Sometimes, it is simply finding a warm sunspot and lounging with a book and a blanket. Other times it is a hot bath in the completely full deep claw foot tub. All else failing, turn to the medicinal properties of food. My mother makes a wonderful chicken-vegetable soup that the children affectionately call "Birthday Soup." This soup heals. But, I have an even better cure-all. My grandfather made potato onion soup, served it in a huge bowl, then completely covered the surface of the soup with pepper. My younger self stood in amazement of the spectacle of the pepper, now I stand in awe of the wisdom. A version of that soup is my ultimate warmer-upper/ core renewal/ heal-all.

We are having it for supper tonight with grilled cheese sandwiches. Here is the recipe I use which is Julia Child's recipe. A version of this recipe appears in almost every one of her cookbooks - a true miracle food and French basic. Since I want to give proper credit, I will source The Way To Cook.
Basic Leek and Potato Soup
2 TBLS butter
3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green
1 1/2 cups sliced onions (about 2 medium)
2 TBLS flour
6 cups water
4 cups peeled, diced potatoes
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper

Melt butter in the saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in the leek and onion pieces to coat with butter, cover the pan, and reduce the heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft, but not colored. Uncover, sprinkle on the flour, stir to distribute and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stirring continually, gradually pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to simmer. When the liquid is smooth and starts to thicken, stir in the rest of the water. Add the potatoes and season. Quickly heat the soup to a gentle boil, cover, and lower the heat. Simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Correct seasoning. To serve, mash, blend, or puree the soup to the desired consistency and adjust the seasoning. Garnish.

Don't panic! If you don't grow leeks or you can't buy them, just use onions. If you don't eat wheat flour, just use some other thickener. If you don't have white pepper, use black, but know that black specks floating in white soup isn't beautiful (My grandfather coated his in black pepper, but Julia Child has a hang-up about it). I prefer this soup (when no one is looking) chunky, so I take an old fashioned potato masher and just smash around a little, but you can dress this soup so it becomes fancy fare.

Make no excuses, there is nothing other than healing goodness in this soup. And, if you puree you can claim that you have produced vichyssoise. Heal yourself.


Jennifer said...

Mmmm. I always liked that recipe, especially for a winter soup party.

I actually stooped to serving soup out of a can yesterday.


Soup is always good for what ails you, and it's so forgiving -- no matter what your personal dietary no-nos are, you can adjust for them so easily.

wisteria said...

I'm sure you needed soup, any soup, to warm you after that bicycle thing yesterday.

When I lived in Chicago, I always loved the crazy way people taunted the cold weather by planning Summer outdoor events in the late Fall or Winter. Just gotta love that pluck!!