October 25, 2007
The leaves have begun to change and are showering the landscape with their bright colors. Pumpkins are covering the ground all around the vegetable market along with yellow, orange and burgundy Chrysanthemums. The Fall vegetables are arriving at the market, leeks, spinach, and squashes. With Fall all around me and my chilly toes talking to me, I wanted to make a warm hearty soup for my family to enjoy.
I had brought home a number of leeks as they have a delicate and sweeter flavor than onions. Leeks have manganese, Vitamin C, iron, folate, Vitamin B6 and very few calories. Leeks can be used a wide variety of ways from chips, soup or tarts.
Leeks are relatively new to the Americas where they were only in use by 1775 by both the colonists and natives, but they have been used throughout history. There is evidence from tomb paintings that the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians cooked with them. Notably, they were a favorite of the Emperor Nero, who liked them in his soup and ate so many he became known as Porrophagus or leek eater. They are so beloved by the people of Wales that they are one of their national emblems.
To prepare your leeks, trim away the wilted or damaged leaves from the outside. Trim away the tops of the leaves. Then cut the leek in half beginning at the end of the white part and going all the way to the end of the leaves. Next, turn the leek over and repeat the last step so that the green leaves are cut into quarters. Fan out the leaves and wash the leek under running water to remove the dirt. After chopping the leek you may find dirt in between the white layers. Place the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse well to remove the dirt. If you would like to see how this is done, visit Jacques Pepin's website for a video on how to clean leeks.
I made the Pumpkin Leek Soup recipe from Colavita, but I needed to make a couple of adjustments for time and personal flavor preferences. This is a robust soup, filled with the flavors of leeks, pumpkin and spices. I served it with warm gluten free rolls and a light salad of mixed baby greens. It was a delightful meal to sit down to on a cool fall evening.
1 Tb butter
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 medium leek chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 Tb dry white wine
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground sage
pinch rosemary leaves
1 Tb chopped pecans
1. In a skillet, saute the chopped leek in the butter and olive oil until they have softened. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and allow the leeks to cook for about 10 minutes.
2. In a stock pot, pour in the rest of the ingredients and the leek broth mixture. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped pecans and serve warm.
What did my family think? My children weren't fond of the flavor of the soup, as they didn't like the spices. My husband and I thought it was warm and delightful.