Tonight, we had a few friends over, and I made soup. Beautiful soup. We've started this as a new social thing, so once a month, we invite some friends over for a meal. Last month, I made pizza. Tonight, it was soup.
Stock is pretty easy, and you can make it from leftovers and unused bits from other meals. I buy chicken breasts with the bone in for meals, and in the summer stick the bones in the deep freeze until it's cool enough to use the stovetop for several hours at a time. Like, say, this week, when it's been delightfully cool, with lows in the forties. Easy-peasy, just drop some bones and some vegetable scraps (tops of onions & carrots, and potato skins leftover from preparing other meals - I've also added basil, bell peppers and other veggies that I've had laying about) in a stockpot, add water and boil it for 30 minutes, then let it simmer for 3-4 hours, adding water as needed to keep it at a constant level.
I measure it into freezer containers, let it cool and skim the fat off the top, then freeze it.
Tonight, it was chicken vegetable soup and potato-leek soup.
The first is super-simple (NPI), just cut up 2-3 carrots, 3-4 potatoes and a large onion into 6-8 cups of stock, add some chicken (I had about half a roast chicken left over, and chopped that meat into nice little bits) and bring to a boil, then simmer for several hours with the lid on, and season to taste - I used a little bit of sea salt, some black pepper and a pinch of thyme. Your Spices May Vary.
Potato-leek soup is a little more work, but rich and creamy and worth the effort.
Slice 2 leeks, all the way up until you're cutting the green part and mince a clove or two of garlic. Melt half a stick of butter in a stock pot and drop in the leeks and garlic, cook them until they're getting soft, but before they start to caramelize. Pour in 6 cups of chicken stock and add 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced. Cook until the potatoes are mushy (that's a technical term) and remove the stock pot from the stove and run the soup through a blender a cup or two at a time until it's thick and, well, soupy. Pour the blended soup into the stock pot and put it over low heat for a bit, then pour in a couple of cups of half and half, and then a cup of heavy whipping cream. Get it heated all the way through, stirring it to keep the cream from scorching. Serve hot with some sharp cheddar or Double Gloucester, or serve cold with sour cream and bacon crumbles.
I baked bread to go with it, using Julia Child's recipe from The Way To Cook. Two round loaves, and 4 mini baugettes.
Super tasty, but I might be a wee bit biased.
I'm very happy now that it's soup season again. There's a Cajun deli near my house, so I'm thinking I'm gonna pick up some Andouille sausage and make some Cajun minestrone this winter.