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MARGARET PROUSE: Souping it up in the autumn

Try fresh leeks in the recipe for Leek and Potato Soup, provided by food columnist Margaret Prouse.
Try fresh leeks in the recipe for Leek and Potato Soup, provided by food columnist Margaret Prouse. - 123RF Stock Photo

There’s something about an autumn day with a chill in the air that makes a steamy bowl of soup seem like the ideal meal.

If you still have tomatoes ripening on your windowsills, you could use some of them to make soup. When I tried this recipe, I found that the flavours mellowed and became more delicious on day 2. It’s interesting that so many dishes work that way.  

The recipe makes 2 litres, enough for us to have some fresh and put some away in the freezer to have later.  

Fresh Tomato Soup

From Topp, Ellie and Margaret Howard: The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, Firefly Books Ltd., Richmond Hill, 2009.

  • 50 mL (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced crosswise (about 500 mL/2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 strips fresh orange zest
  • 2 L (8 cups) chopped peeled ripe tomatoes (about 2 kg/4 lb)
  • 250 mL (1 cup) chicken broth
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) fresh thyme or 5 mL (1 tsp) dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-10 mL (1-2 tsp) granulated sugar
  • 2-5 mL (½ -1 tsp) salt
  • 2 mL (½ tsp) freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and orange zest; cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

Add tomatoes, broth, thyme, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently or until tomatoes are cooked.

Discard bay leaf and allow to cool. (I discarded the orange zest, too.) Transfer to blender or food processor and process until very smooth.

Ladle into freezer containers. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Defrost before reheating to serving temperature. If the soup is thicker than you wish, stir in extra chicken stock or milk.

Makes 2 L (8 cups).

Tips from the authors: If desired, add sugar to taste to soften the acidity of the tomatoes in this soup. Milk added before serving provides a pleasant creaminess. I didn’t find it necessary to supplement the sugar in the recipe but did enjoy the soup with a little milk stirred in.

I didn’t grow leeks in my own garden, but a friend gave me some from hers, and I know just what to make with them: leek and potato soup. It can be served chilled, but I like it hot. 

Here’s the recipe I use for the soup. You can substitute evaporated milk or blend cream instead of milk to make soup creamier, or to minimize fat intake, use low-fat milk or fat-free evaporated milk.  

If you’re new to cooking with leeks, you should know that they may have soil trapped between the layers. The easiest way to remove it is to slice the leek lengthwise and rinse it under cold water. People often discard the dark green part of leek leaves, but they can be simmered with other vegetables to flavour vegetable stock. 

Leek and Potato Soup

Adapted from Young, Donna and Marg Routledge: New Maritimes Seasonal Cooking,  Nimbus Publishing Ltd., Halifax, 1996.

  • 5 mL (1 tsp) olive oil 
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts, sliced
  • 50 mL (¼ cup) diced celery
  • 375 mL (1½ cups) chicken broth
  • 375 mL (1½ cups) sliced potatoes
  • 1 mL (¼ tsp) salt (omit if broth is salted)
  • 0.5 mL (⅛ tsp) freshly ground pepper
  • 75 mL (⅓ cup) homogenized milk
  • Snipped chives for garnish, optional

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan. Add leek and celery. Reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until softened.

Add chicken broth, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add potatoes, and continue cooking until potatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes. 

Pulse in a blender or food processor until mixture is a coarse, rather than a smooth purée (or make it smooth, if you prefer). 

Add salt, if using, and pepper.  

Add milk, using more or less to adjust thickness. Warm to desired temperature and garnish with chives, if using.

Soup may be chilled and served cold if preferred.

Makes 4 servings. 

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, writes this column for The Guardian every Friday. She can be reached by email at [email protected].

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