When I stopped eating wheat, I lived mostly on vegetables, leafy greens, eggs and fruit, with the occasional piece of fish or shellfish thrown in for protein. A good four months went by before I ventured into trying wheat-free substitutions such as rice and potatoes.
I found that I can eat potatoes with no marked change in weight (leave out the butter and sour cream!). Nor did I experience that heavy, bloated feeling that comes with eating wheat.
And although I don't eat them regularly, I don't fear them like I used to - all that high-glycemic starch - and have found out that they are a nutritious, high antioxidant (red and purple ones especially) addition to a wheat-free diet.
So in celebration of the potato, I offer a hearty, warming soup that is so easy to make you practically can do it blindfolded, although I would not suggest you do so unless your knife skills are at Samurai level.
One hour, from start to finish, this soup was the perfect main course for a chilly night, watching a wonderful old movie with our friends Robert and Simona.
Popcorn was the first course, but that's for another post...
Potato Leek Soup with Uncured Ham, Marjoram and Thyme
Christine's original recipe
6 cups quartered small potatoes (a mix of red and yellow work well)
6 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only
4-5 long stems fresh marjoram
3-4 stems fresh thyme
6 cups chicken stock, preferrably home made (use low sodium if store bought)
1 heaping cup cubed applewood smoked, fully cooked, Niman Ranch uncured ham (optional, but really good)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
small amount of olive oil for the pan
1/2 cup dry white wine
Add the chicken stock to a large soup pot and heat over medium flame.
Add the potatoes, bring to just under a boil then lower the heat to a simmer.
Toss the herbs, stems and all, into the soup pot and push them into the stock with a spoon.
Meanwhile, sauté the leeks in olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet (I use cast iron), tossing with tongs to keep them from burning, until they are softly cooked and slightly caramelized, about 8 minutes.
Scrape the leeks into the soup pot and return the skillet to the flame.
Deglaze the skillet with the white wine, scraping up any browned bits, then pour it all into the soup pot.
Simmer the soup, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender and the herby smells fill your kitchen, bringing hungry folks in to see what's cooking.
When the soup is done, remove the herbs with tongs and strip the leaves from the stems, tossing the leaves back into the pot. This is a rather messy job, but worth it in the end.
Remove the pot from the heat and, using a potato masher, mash the contents until they thicken the stock but still retain some shape.
Put the soup over low heat, toss in the ham cubes to warm.
Serve and enjoy.
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