Leek and Potato Soup

It seemed like spring JUST started (even here in the Pacific Northwest) and suddenly I feel like we're quickly sliding into summer. I mean it's half way through May. Then June. The girl will be finished with grade 3 and it'll be summer camp time. 

With the year flying by it's time to check in and see where I'm at compared to where I wanted to be by now.  Do you do that? Do you do your own "check in" to see how things are progressing? Learning the skills you wanted to learn? Making the work that you wanted to make?

I'm on track with some projects - and others? Still on paper - I love the ideas but was probably a bit overambitious about the time I had available to execute. 

I find that I'm a lot more relaxed about that - the not getting it all done right.now. I need a better word than relaxed - perhaps focused? But in a calm way, feeling satisfied as long as I am moving forward.

Maybe that satisfaction with any forward movement comes with feeling more settled. I've been back in Vancouver for almost three years now. Although I love to travel and experience new things, I'm also a big fan of traditions - both for me and my family.

I do feel more settled with traditions, both for me alone and with my family.You know, the "if it's July then it's time for the cottage". Or "if it's September, off to the film festival in Toronto". And on a smaller scale, "mid May, time to attend the Cloverdale rodeo". Or, "it's Sunday afternoon, time for our family movie watching".

Things that you can count on year after year - making good memories.

Something that I've appreciated this year is making time for more cooking and food photography. I'm back on Pinterest too - gathering inspiration and letting the images show me the style and color palettes that appeal to me.

And back to that tradition idea, spring means fresh produce. Cooking what is in season. This spring I've been all over the leeks and rhubarb. Well, not together (but that's not a bad idea now that I think of it).

Although it's a long weekend in Canada that is traditionally when you open up the cottage (yay!), it's cool and rainy today. We'll be warming up with leek and potato soup. With shallots. I love onions but it's a treat to use other aromatics like leeks and shallots.

So what progress are you making? How is your year going so far? 

Potato Leek Soup (modified from Martha Stewart)

(print recipe here)

Makes 6 cups

 Ingredients

1 small bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

 10 whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

 3 leeks, white and light-green parts only, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 pound potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 quart homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock 

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

Fresh chervil, for garnish

Make bouquet garni: Wrap bay leaf, parsley, and peppercorns in cheesecloth. Tie with twine, and set aside. (I didn’t have cheesecloth – used it up straining a shrub drink last summer so I threw them in whole).

Heat butter and oil in saucepan. Add leeks and shallots; cook on medium-low heat until very soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not brown. Add potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil; reduce to gentle simmer. Cook until potatoes are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bouquet garni (I fished them out with a strainer since I didn’t have the cheesecloth).

Using an immersion blender, slowly blend til soup is smooth. Warm over medium-low heat. Slowly stir in milk and cream; season with salt and pepper. Once milk is added, do not boil. Spoon into small cups; serve hot or cold, garnished with chervil leaves.