Sunday, August 24, 2008

Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)

I couldn't believe summer is nearly over and I haven't prepared two of my favourite summertime soups, Gazpacho and Vichyssoise. Both are soups I got good at making while living abroad -- Gazpacho in Madrid, and Vichyssoise in Hamburg. In part because in both apartments I had access to an immersion blender, a truly wonderful invention that is fun to use. In Spain I was constantly experimenting with sauces (a particularly decadent red bell pepper pasta sauce comes to mind) and in Hamburg, I tended to use the blender more for soup. Here's my recipe for a delicious vichyssoise -- its rich, delicious taste deceives how simple and easy it is to prepare.

Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)
makes 5 servings

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 white onion
6 leeks, white and pale green part, thinly sliced
3 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large pot over low heat, add onion, butter and olive oil. When onion begins to sweat, add leeks and continue to sweat until the leeks and onions are limp and translucent. Add potatoes and cook for about a minute, then add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, add cream and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Add freshly cracked pepper and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about an hour, then purée with a blender (handheld or upright).


Leeks $2.93
Onion $1.01
Potatoes $2.52
Chicken Broth $3.99
Cream $1.39

Total: $11.84
Cost per meal: $2.37

Nutritional Information: 206 calories, 6g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 472mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 2g sugar, 6g protein, 4% vitamin A, 26% vitamin C, 8% calcium, 14% iron. Also a good source of magnanese.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lunch: Summery Pasta Salad

I saw this recipe in a recent issue of Shape and decided to modify it slightly to use up a few ingredients I had on hand from last week's lunch. It's loaded with vegetables and I added some chicken breast to it to give it some added protein.

Summery Pasta Salad
(makes 5 servings)

2 cups dry tri-colore fusilli or bowtie pasta
2 chicken breasts, sautéed, cooled and diced
1/4 onion
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup green beans, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into small pieces
1 yellow squash
4 scallions
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 - 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 - 2 tsp. dried basil

Bring water to a boil. Cook 2 cups dry pasta until ready (approximately 12 minutes). Drain and cool.

As pasta cooks, sautée onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil for about one minute. Add broccoli and cauliflower and sautée, for about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper, green beans, sugar snap peas, and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes. Add squash and cook for about 5 minutes more. Chop scallions and set aside.

In a large bowl, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, sherry vinegar, garlic, parsley, and basil and mix well. When the vegetable mixture is finished cooking through, add pasta, vegetables and raw scallions to the bowl and mix well. Grate parmesan over mixture and toss, adjusting salt, pepper and other seasonings to your desired taste.


Yellow squash $.91
Basil $3.69
Parmesan $7.58
Pasta $2.89
Green beans $.92
Scallions $.50
Broccoli & cauliflower florets $3.04
Chicken breasts (2) $2.67
Red bell pepper $1.28

Total: $23.48
Cost per meal: $4.70

These costs are slightly misleading as I used about a quarter of the parmesan cheese, a quarter of the box of pasta, and have green beans, sugar snap peas (which I can't find on the receipt for some reason), scallions, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and half a red bell pepper to use up in some other meal this week (probably will do a stir fry).