Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roasted Autumn Soup With Potatoes, Carrots And Leeks

It happens every fall. The days grow shorter, the nights cooler, and grilling time becomes scarcer.

With no warning, no I think I'll make soup today, suddenly I must get out the large stockpot and begin to make that quinessential celebration of autumn: Soup.

Our soon-to-be in-laws, Vyrle and Dolly, generously sent us a bag full of purple, red, yellow and russet potatoes, freshly dug from their Oregon farm and hand-carried by Miles when he flew from Portland for a recent visit. Last week I roasted a pan of those beautiful potatoes with some carrots, always making enough for company (in this case Robert and Simona) and leftovers.

At the farmers market last Saturday I picked up fresh leeks, Walla Walla onions, garlic and a fat, happy jalapeno pepper. As always - beautiful, organic, and locally grown.

And there it was: Inspiration staring me in the face.

With grateful thanks to Vyrle and Dolly and, always, to our local farmers, I offer yet another iteration of my penchant for heart and soul warming fall soup.

Christine's Roasted Autumn Soup with Potatoes, Carrots and Leeks
Serves 8-10 as a main course
16 small, medium and large garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
1 large Walla Walla onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium leeks and 5 small leeks (or whatever you have on hand to equal about 3 cups chopped), white and light green parts only, cleaned, sliced lengthwise, coarsely chopped crosswise
olive oil for the pan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-dry Vermouth for de-glazing the pan
10 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock (I used Pacific Foods Vegetable Broth, produced in Oregon
6 heaping cups previously-roasted potatoes and carrots, coarsely cut
1 rather large jalapeno pepper, charred, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme, leave whole
Juice from 1 very large Valencia orange, strained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Have a large stockpot ready on the stove.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly oil a large baking pan, add the onion, leeks, and garlic and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting another 15 or 20 minutes or until the vegetables become golden brown and caramelized.
Remove the pan from the oven and scrape the vegetables into the stockpot. Immediately pour the Vermouth into the hot pan and scrape up all the browned bits, pouring it all into the stockpot.
To the stockpot add the broth or stock, potatoes and carrots, chopped jalapeno pepper, chopped oregano and thyme sprigs.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, for 25 minutes.
Pour in the orange juice and stir to blend. Taste and add more kosher salt and pepper if necessary.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Fish out the now-bare thyme sprigs; they will have left their herby leaves in the soup.
If you have an immersion blender, get it out now. If not, you can puree the soup in small batches in a food processor.
With the immersion blender on 3, begin blending the soup taking great care not to splatter it on you. It's very hot. As you blend, the soup will thicken. Stop blending when the soup is the consistency you desire. If using a processor, place 2-3 cupfuls at a time in the bowl and pulse until it reaches the consistency you desire. Repeat. (See how easy it would be if you had an immersion blender?)

To Serve:
There are any number of ways one can serve this soup. One of my favorites is to add a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream thinned with cream, then sprinkle the dollop with fresh thyme leaves and/or toasted almond slices. Another way is to stir a cup or two of buttermilk into the soup just before serving. Don't let it boil, however, or it will curdle. Me and Mr CC: we like our soup unadorned, straight from the pot, with good crusty bread, a fresh-from-the-garden tomato and cucumber salad, and a glass of deep red wine from the southwest of France. Mais oui!

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved