Tag Archives: leeks

Cream of Greens Soup: Dandelions, Spinach, and Arugula

Earth Day Soup

When I think of Earth Day, I think more about how I was raised instead of an event marked on a calendar that occurs once a year.  I guess my mother was green before her time simply because she needed to be frugal with her earnings.  But that’s not all.  Her common sense was what was really at work.  If you’re a single mother who works split shifts and have three children under the age of six, you put all of them in the tub at the same time and teach them that the water cannot rise above their belly buttons.  Absolutely no showers, ever.  You rinse your two girls’ very long hair with a tablespoon of  apple cider vinegar mixed with water they wished was warm instead of shockingly cold.  You nag your children incessantly until they understand that lights are turned off when not in use and that electricity costs money — which sadly does not grow on trees.  You make your children’s clothes, and as much as your younger daughter may not love the idea, pass the older daughter’s clothes down once outgrown.  You make shorts from cut off pants, either outgrown, or made possible by knees that have worn through.  You purchase less of everything and teach them how to take care of what they have, because if they don’t, they’re not getting anything new.  You make popsicles from koolaid poured into ice cube trays and dole them out over a few days like they were gold nuggets.  You remind them to bring home from school each day, not only the brown bag their lunch was in, but the baggies their chips and sandwiches were stuffed in to.  You teach them to clean their plates at meals, and never, ever to waste food.  Ever.   Or else.

And you teach them how to eat their vegetables — especially the green ones.

In celebration of Earth Day and smart, frugal moms everywhere who were green long before it was the cool thing to do, this soup is for you.  It’s healthy, and made with a bit of this, and a bit of that from my vegetable drawer.

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Leeks

I have finally given in to the temptations from all of the glorious Fall baking going on in FoodBlogLand and in my cooking magazines.  I’ve seen bread and muffins, pies and soups, casseroles, and ravioli.  I couldn’t stand not digging in myself.  And since I’ve also had curry on my brain, I thought I’d try a different kind of butternut squash soup than what we’ve had in the past.

But I’m ahead of myself.  Butternut squash isn’t something I grew up eating.  In fact, squash in general was never on our dinner plates.  Hence, I’ve been a little slow on the uptake with my own family.  Zucchini has been something I’ve enjoyed and expected others around here to try.  A little garlic and olive oil usually gets it to pass inspection.  But butternut squash?  Hmmmm…it’s so…orange and makes me think of pumpkin without the spice or sweetness.  Okay, so I’m wired to think it should taste like pie.

But a couple of years ago, my huzbink came home with a squash and just decided he was going to make himself some butternut squash soup.  Really.  I won’t go into the hilarity of finding him in the kitchen going at that squash, though, so you’ll just have to imagine the scene as one that would leave your jaw dropped to your belt.

His soup was great, and since then, he’s been the official squash soup maker for Thanksgiving, which always complicates things because everyone gets settled in their chairs, slurps their soup, then there’s the scuffle of chairs to remove the bowls…you can picture it, right?  Between the two of us, we’ve got a handle on it, though.  He’s experimented with a variety of recipes, the best of which contains tart green apples. 

But I’ve seen some recipes around that contain curry, so thought I might try one of those.  After comparing ingredients in several, I decided upon and revised this one originally found at Epicurious.  The leeks captured my attention and I had to find out what what they’d be like in this soup — and "frizzled."  Anything is worth trying once, right?

My huzbink and I have been watching our calories so this soup fits the bill quite nicely.  It’s got good flavor, and the leeks add a nice touch.  I do have to say my huzbink does enjoy meat quite a bit, and after several nights without it, jumped at the addition of "optional ham" I’ve included at the end.

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Curried Squash Soup with Frizzled Leeks
serves 6

Soup Ingredients

white and pale green parts of 1/2 lb leeks (about 2 medium) sliced thin
1/2 medium sweet white onion, chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1-3/4 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small chunks (about 5 c.)
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water

For Frizzled Leeks

white and pale green parts of 1 medium leek cut crosswise into 2" pieces
canola oil for frying

Soup Directions

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In a large colander, wash leeks after slicing to remove all evidence of mud, pushing through the slices to separate the rings.  Let drain.

In a large sauce pan or kettle, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat stirring until softened.  Add the rinsed leeks and stir until soft.  Add the curry and cook for another minute.  Add the remaining ingredients for the soup and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat and cool briefly.  In batches, puree soup in a food processor, transferring it  to another  pan as you finish.  If necessary when done, warm the soup up, and add salt and pepper before serving.

To Frizzle Leeks

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Cut 2" leek sections lengthwise into very thin strips.  Place strips into colander to rinse well, then drain.  Then, spread leek strips over the surface of a clean dish towel and make sure they are completely dry.

In a pan with at least 1" of oil, heat until a test leek dropped into the oil sizzles on the surface.  Using a slotted spoon or wire scoop, lower small amounts of the leek strips into the oil, not crowding, but pushing them around until they begin to crisp and darken in color.

Remove the batch, and allow them to drain on layers of paper towels.  Season with salt, and serve as a topping on the soup.

Optional: Slice thin chunks of ham and fry until crisp and golden.  Serve with leeks and soup.

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This would be my husband’s version of the soup, with ham morsels floating in it.  Not exactly pretty, but he loved it.

Notes: This is half of what the original recipe calls for, and I have leftovers frozen for another day.  It easily could have been made and then kept in the fridge until the next day, or frozen after it cooled a bit after the puree stage. The curry is not as strong as I thought it would be, even though I used more than half of what was called for.  Although the leeks were excellent in taste in the soup — it’s what made it — it was as I thought it would be.  Kind of a pain.  I’m not a deep fat fryer type of person, so I may need to brush up on technique, but most of the leeks never quite got crispy enough.  I found myself thinking that I should either try it again the right way (375 degree oil in a smaller pan and more oil…) or just saute leek rings and incorporate them into the soup. The soup does have very nice flavor, and is filling. I’m thinking that adding an apple to this with the curry would still be quite nice.