Winter Vegetable Soup

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sat·ur·day night

/ˈsatərˌdā / nīt/

Noun
1. Falling asleep with a book on your lap and a glass of wine half full on the coffee table.
2. The inability to replace wool socks with boots and a quilt with a coat.
3. Waking up before midnight, brushing those pearly whites and calling it.

I let Saturday night have her way with me. And I was pretty OK with it.

Because on Sunday morning, the two inches of snow were all I needed to throw the rest of my vegetables into a pan and call it a soup.

_MG_1457What do we have here? Celery, sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks and red potatoes.

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I might get married with a bouquet of herbs instead of flowers. The basil will be gone by the time I make it down the aisle.

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Leeks, bless their hearts, are dirty jerks. All sorts of little granules nestle themselves between the layers of leaves and there’s only one good way to get rid of them – a submersive rinse.

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When you roast everything together, the flavor’s like whaaaaaaaat?

Wait, where did all these vegetables and dried herbs come from? I joined a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) this winter and once a month was bombarded with root vegetables, pears apples, rutabaga and the occasional bundle of kale and broccoli. It was worth every penny.

Summer CSA with blueberries, tomatoes and fresh herbs, here I come.

_MG_1501Winter Vegetable Soup.

1lbs red potatoes, chopped into 1-1/1/2 inch chunks
3-4 large carrots, chopped like the potatoes
2-3 sweet potatoes, ditto
2 large leeks, sliced into 1/4in. pieces and submersed in a cold water bath
5-6 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4in. pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, skin still on
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash all the vegetables (use a rough sponge when necessary). Toss with olive oil and herbs in a 9x13in baking pan. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until the carrots are soft (they take the longest).

In a blender or food processor, pulse the roasted vegetables with the vegetable stock until smooth. Place pureed soup into a large pot as you work your way through the rest of the vegetables, being sure to not overload the blender. If it’s too full, the heat and pressure will make the lid explode, no matter how much you try to hold it down. (Seriously.).

Once everything is pureed, either sieve the contents through a cheese cloth or leave it chunky (I like my soups thick). Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer until the soup is nice and hot.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

Enough to melt the rest of the snow.

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Swedish-Style Baked Potato

The first time I ever baked something was with my mom.  Hillary Clinton Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They were full of chocolate, chewy, moist, and I still have the recipe memorized.  It’s my go-to in times of junk food desperation.

I remember the first time I broke a bone, rode a bike, my first tooth-pulling, my first Barbie (and last), first smooch, first punch, and quite possibly hundreds of other life landmarks.  Then again, I can’t remember my first piercing because I was just a month old living in the Philippines.

It’s 2011, and maybe it’s the two ones in the year, but I’ve got a massive underlying desire to rack up the firsts before the year’s out.  Like carving pumpkins.  And ice skating on a pond.  And if I dare, skiing?!

Apple picking, check.

I’ve yet to decide what to do with a good 12 pounds of all sorts of apples.  Maybe I’m avoiding them because we ate half a dozen apples to our faces before even picking any for the bag.  Apples make my tummy do cartwheels.

I can tell you that last night marked the first time I successfully baked a potato.

I have issues with potatoes.  I’m only slightly Irish and my starch of choice has always been rice, so when someone asks me to whip up home fries for breakfast, the kitchen explodes.

They look like caterpillars before you bake them.  And after.

Swedish-style Baked Potatoes.

5 red potatoes
5-7 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 slivers butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

To slice the potatoes thin, you’ll need a super sharp knife.  Begin at one end of the potato and slice almost all the way do the bottom, leaving about an eighth of an inch.  Continue slicing slivers about a sixteenth of an inch all the way down the potato.

Stuff the gaps with thinly sliced garlic.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle each potato with olive oil.  Top with a slice of butter and salt and pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are crisp.

Serves two hungry hippos or as 5 sides.