Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Potato, PotAHto…let’s call the whole thing off.

For some reason Louis Armstrong’s lyrics swam around in my head all morning. I loved singing this song as a kid and it brings back so many memories. It’s amazing how songs can keep you reminiscing from one memory to another. As lyrics and tunes bring back the past occasions, the taste and smells of food throw me into momentary mirages. You know what I mean…that special bowl of chicken and rice your grandmother made when you were sick that cured all ails from the chicken pox to a runny nose or the smell of freshly baked bread wafting in the church hall carrying with it the day’s gossip. I can hear the bustle of the old Greek women, puttering around pointing fingers at the newbie bread braiders and guffawing over the latest piece of social speculation.

It decided to downpour this morning, creating a dark ambience down my halls and into the rooms of my home. Peaceful, yet in needing of some comfort, I decided that preparing a meal in my always happy kitchen would be just the ticket. I got out my notebook and like I always do for dinner, began brainstorming at what would fit the mood. Sunny days usually bring fresh guacamole recipes, tacos, and Caribbean, while rainy days pour comforting elements into my pen strokes. Today I thank Mr. Armstrong for my inspiration:

Potato (or PotAHto) & Leek Soup with Homemade Croutons and Turkey Bacon Bits

•3 leeks, sliced
•2 celery ribs, sliced
•2 shallots, minced
•1-2 cups carrot (I bought mine chopped)
•3-4 tbs dry thyme
•3-4 tbs dry dillweed
•Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
•10 baby butter potatoes (or potatoes of your choice), cubed
•Salt & Pepper to taste
•Dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
•Small block of gruyere cheese, cubed
•Block of sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
•1 ½ cups organic half and half
•6 strips Turkey Bacon
•4 slices gluten free bread of your choice

*I prepared my soup in the crock pot so I could smell the delicious meal all day.

Heat crock pot on high.

Drizzle olive oil in the crock pot and add your leeks, carrots, shallots, and celery. Add salt and pepper and mix so that all the vegetables are coated in the olive oil. Add your potatoes and spices and mix again. Fill the crock pot with your chicken broth until almost covering the potatoes. I use organic free range because it has the least amount of sodium and tastes the best.

Cook on High for 3 hours.

Add half and half. Let cook for another 30 minutes then add your cheese. You want to wait to add the cheese until the last 30 minutes so that you don’t cook off the flavors.

Place bacon on a nonstick baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool, then slice into little bits for topping.

On the same pan, place your 4 slices of gluten free bread. Bake and turn until crispy. Take out of the oven and lightly smooth yogurt butter on tops. After they cool, tear into small pieces for your crouton topping. I made 4 slices because I knew I would inevitably be snacking on them every time I passed to check on the soup.

At four hours my potatoes were ready to be mashed. You want them nice and tender. Turn your crock pot to low, and with a hand mixer, smooth your soup to desired consistency. I did not want huge chunks of potato and it helped to thicken the soup with them smoothed into the liquid.

Serve Potato, PotAHto Leek soup with your bacon bits and homemade croutons. (And try not to argue over the correct pronunciation too much…)

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