Potato, Carrot, and Leek Soup + Baked Apricots

June has slipped by more quickly than I could have imagined.  This Friday I leave for Europe and Peter leaves for a wedding.  Most of the travel arrangements are finally made, but I can’t help feeling like I’ve forgotten something.  Once Peter joins me in Europe, we will try to post photos from Copenhagen, Florence, and Paris.  I am determined not to forget the camera.   Do you have any suggestions for things to see or eat in these three cities?  There’s still a lot to do before we leave, so I made a big pot of potato, carrot and leek soup and some simple baked fruit for dessert.

I have made this potato, carrot, and leek soup many times using a wide range of ratios between the different vegetables.  I have used only water and butter, so as to make it vegetarian, and, this time, made it with homemade chicken fat and chicken stock.  Since my chicken stock was flavored with rosemary, I added a little more rosemary to the soup.  A bay leaf might also be a nice addition, as would fresh tarragon in place of rosemary.

Potato, Carrot, and Leek Soup
2-3 large potatoes, chopped
4-6 medium carrots, chopped
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced
Chicken broth or water
Butter or chicken fat
Salt and pepper
Begin by preparing the vegetables.   Both the white and light green parts of the leeks can be used, as long as all the dirt is carefully washed from between the leek skin layers.  In a soup pot, cook the leeks in the butter until soft, 5 minutes, keeping the pot covered to trap steam and keep the leeks from browning.  Add the potatoes, carrots, and chicken broth, plus enough water to cover the vegetables.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 20-40 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft.  If desired, puree the soup with a food processor (hard and messy) or immersion blender (easy).

These baked apricots are just softened through and have released lots of delicious juice.  The point isn’t a thick syrupy pie filling, but rather a hot, simple fruit dish that depends almost completely on the fruit for flavor.  Luckily, unripe or just not very flavorful fruit can be improved in this process.

Baked Apricots with Almonds
(per person)
2-4 apricots, pitted and sliced
1-2 tablespoons coarsely sliced raw almonds
Drizzle of honey
Pat of butter plus enough for buttering the baking dish
Dash of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  If making more than one serving, bake each serving in its own dish so that everyone gets their fair share of the fruit juices.   Line the glass or ceramic baking dish with butter, and add the apricots and salt.  Top with the sliced almonds, a drizzle of honey, and a pat of butter.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the white sides of the sliced almonds are beginning to look golden.  Serve warm for dessert or save in the fridge for breakfast.

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