As we struggle with the uncertainty and disruption to normal life that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought I thought it might be nice to share some basic ways to cope with isolation and a reduction in social interactions.
I am staying at home as much as possible but have stocked up (sensibly, not by panic buying) on the basics for everyday life. I love to cook and have been cooking since my teens but I recognise that quite a few of my students either don’t cook or can’t cook. When you are relying on takeaways and ready meals a crisis like this can look even more daunting.
So, starting today I thought I’d post a series of simple meals that anyone can make (so long as they’ve access to a kitchen that is!). If anyone else from the History team at Northampton wants to get involved and post their own recipes, the more the merrier! Who knows by the end of the crisis we might have enough for our own recipe book 🙂
Today’s is one of the simplest soups know to mankind – leek and potato. It is tasty, healthy, and super easy to make. It will take you 30-45 minutes so within an hour you’ve got a great healthy (and very cheap) lunch or light supper.
Drew’s Leek and potato soup
You will need:
One gas or electric hob ring.
A largish saucepan.
a chopping board and sharp knife.
A blender if possible (stick blenders like this one are ideal). NB don’t worry if you can’t blend your soup, it’s lovely as it is.
1 large leek
1 medium sized onion
1 large or 2 medium sized potatoes
About 1 litre of vegetable stock (made by adding boiling water to a veggie stock cube) – you can use chicken stock if you prefer but it won’t be vegan or veggie.
About a tablespoon of olive oil (you can use sunflower or vegetable oil just as well) and/or a large knob of butter. (Butter will make this richer but its not vegan).
Salt and pepper and (if possible) a bay leaf or two (these are easy to get from the shops and last for ages so they won’t go off).
Wash your hands !!!
Ok, to start with peel and roughly chop your onion . It doesn’t have to be too fine. Then slice the leek lengthways and separate the layers. You can now wash it under the tap holding on to the end where the root is. Make sure you get all the dirt out.
Now chop the leek in to slices about 1cm think. Again, don’t be too worried about perfection here!
Finally peel and chop the potato (above) into 1-2cm sized pieces.
You’re now ready to cook.
Hate the oil and/or butter in the saucepan and quickly add your onion. Don’t have the heat too high, you want to gently soften the onion not burn it. When it is beginning to look a little translucent add the leeks. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until the leeks look nice and soft and have reduced down in the pan. Stir them from time to time so they don’t burn.
Now add the chopped potatoes, stir so everything gets nicely mixed together and pour in the stock.
Add some salt (a large pinch should do it), a grind of black pepper, and a bay leaf or two.
Bring to a gentle boil, turn the hurt down and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
The idea is to make sure everything is cooked, the leeks and onion are soft, and the potato is beginning to break up. Test it with a spoon (right).
The soup is now pretty much ready to eat. You can taste it (be careful it will be very hot – potato really retains its heat – so wait a few minutes) and add some more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Take out the bay leaf (you can eat them but they aren’t nice to eat!)
At this point you can ladle it in bowls and eat but I prefer it blended so take it away from the heat, let it cool for five more minutes and attack it with a stick blender.
Be careful that the head of the blender is always under the liquid or you will pebbledash your kitchen (and yourself) with hot soup!
Once you’ve blended it for a few minutes it will be mostly smooth but check for escaped potato cubes. If you want to be really fancy you can pass it through a large sieve for super smoothness.
Now all you need is a bowl (or two or three if you are feeding others), a spoon, and perhaps some bread. This recipe will make enough for 3-4 hungry people so you can either eat seconds or let it cool, cover, and keep it in the fridge and have for lunch tomorrow or the next day.
oh, and when you’ve done…wash your hands again.