The stay-at-home lifestyle has elevated dinnertime to high point of the day, if it wasn't already. Say you have shopped just once a week during the last three weeks of confinement. The makings of a simple, satisfying meal can be within reach. It is as easy as returning to roots.
You are forgiven for passing over root vegetables in the produce aisle. They have zero eye appeal. What they lack in color and seasonality they make up for in the nutrients they have absorbed underground and fiber. Roots are also loaded with starch which we break down into glucose. Yes, eating root vegetables will give you a legal culinary high.
My favorite root recipe is a comforting soup of leeks and potatoes. In France they call it Potage Parisien and treat it as if it were the little black dress of the culinary world. First they swap out water for chicken broth and then proceed to dress it up with watercress, herbs or lettuce.
I prefer to surprise guests by placing a thin slice of blue cheese in the bottom of the soup bowl. The cheese is hidden, waiting to be discovered after the hot vegetable puree is poured over it. A garnish of fresh chives adds the comforting green aroma of Spring.
If you are not a fan of blue cheese, substitute another variety that melts easily, or grate a hard cheese into the bowl. The point is to swirl the cheese into the soup as you consume it. Each spoonful tastes a little different than the one before which accelerates the process. You're soon ready for another helping.
POTAGE PARISIEN (LEEK AND POTATO SOUP)
Ingredients for 6 - 8 servings
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups thinly sliced leeks
4 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes
4 cups cool water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 ounces blue cheese
Garnish: 2 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Melt the butter in a heavy 4 quart pot. Cut the leeks 1” into the green portion. Trim the root end and quarter the leeks lengthwise without separating them at the root end. Rinse the interior of the leek leaves to remove any dirt. Thinly slice and add them to the hot butter, stirring and cooking for 5 minutes as they soften.
Peel, quarter and cut the potatoes into 1” cubes. Add them to the leeks and continue cooking for another 2 -3 minutes. Pour in the water, bring the liquid to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and thin with water, if desired. Place a slice of cheese at the bottom of each soup bowl. Pour on the soup. Garnish with fresh chives, and serve immediately.