Wednesday, December 11, 2013

50 Chefs For 50 Years, #11 Richard Sax Part One, Farmer's Market Veggie Soup

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I admit the color isn't appealing, but this soup is amazing on a cold day!

Back at the 50 chefs, and I have just about 7 months to finish.  Yikes!   This one is pretty relevant to me.  Back in 1994, I was given one of my all time favorite books.  Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax.  305 recipes, all desserts, all so thoroughly researched.  Historic recipes, friend's recipes, some of his own personal favorites.  So why, you are wondering, am I making soup?  His last book which was published after his death, is where the soup recipe comes from.  The book is called Get In There And Cook.  So, if you read my blog, ever, you know this chef made an imprint on me.  He was a prolific writer, so respected in his field, and went to culinary school after he had been an high school English teacher.  The courage to pursue your dream.  Powerful stuff.

I am also the owner of The Cookie Lover's Cookie Book, which is okay.  I love Rose (she is coming up).  Richard's is a small book, and I really dislike cookbooks in the miniature.  But it is a 20 degree December day, and we needed soup.  So I started at Richard's last book.  But I will be back to bake a dessert, you can count on that. So lets get to the soup.

Generally speaking, I am not a big recipe follower for soup, but to honor this man, I decided to try my very best.  I wanted no meat, and this fit the bill perfectly.  I have also made his Pasta e Fagioli from this same book. My notes make it very clear I veered off the path on that one!  But I apparently liked it, and it is a popular blog post.  This soup is packed with flavor, and blending part of it makes it creamy and satisfying.

Where the magic happens...

Farmer's Market Vegetable Soup
adapted from Richard Sax

2 T olive oil
2 medium onions peeled and diced
3 leeks, trimmed and cleaned well, then sliced
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
36 oz. vegetable or chicken stock (I used both)
3/4 cup half and half
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (my idea, I really wanted a little color and acid)
Fresh spinach...however much you like!

Sweat the onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, salt, thyme, pepper flakes and tarragon over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Stir often.  Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked.
Using an immersion blender or a blender, puree up to one half of the soup and put back into the pot.  Add the cream, nutmeg and tomatoes.  Do not boil again, heat gently until ready to serve.  Add spinach just before serving to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.

So, I did change up the quantities a little.  Three onions is a lot of onions, and leeks here come in 3's so what to do with that last one?  The carrots were scrawny and I like them, so I doubled it. And the spices are sort of an eyeball guess.  Soup is not a is an art.  So I am creating my own version from his work.  Simmering, the aroma is fantastic and the soup is perfect following an ice storm!  So, as it appears the cold has settled in early and will likely stick around, it's going to be soup season for awhile.  What are you waiting for?  Get in there and cook!  (Thanks Mr. Sax!)

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