Tuesday, October 20, 2009

French Leek Soup

A few years back, I read the book French Women Don't Get Fat (even though they eat bread with butter, cheese, chocolate and wine) by Mireille Guiliano. I like the philosophy of Mireille/French women to eat normal portions, good food that is filling (versus over-processed junk like chips--I love chips) without being obsessed with working out. Guiliano tells a story in the book of how people thought she was crazy to walk up 12 flights of stairs to her NYC apartment. But one day the elevator broke down, and all the people who spent an hour a day or more working out were winded walking up the stairs.

I followed Guiliano's recipes for some not-light-at-all croissants and tried (unsuccessfully) to make a baguette. But I hadn't tried her leek soup until last night. I read the book as if it were a novel, but it actually does have a guide to losing weight, and the leek soup is the jump start to weight loss French-style. Guiliano directs readers to make the soup and eat leeks and the broth and only leeks and the broth for three days. Apparently, it's some sort of cleansing method. I don't need to lose weight, so we'll just throw that three days of broth out the window, but I could use a bit of cleansing. Mostly I just wanted a light, simple meal. I was in St. Louis over the weekend for a friend's wedding and I'll be in Boston this weekend, which means once October is over I'll have eaten out far too much. And no matter where you dine, I always feel the heaviness of restaurant food (unless it's sushi).

I don't even think I knew what leeks were before this recipe. But aren't they beautiful, the stalks all braided together like that? In kind with Guiliano's joie de vivre, I took a walk yesterday. Actually, it was a run that became a walk that extended redundantly around blocks I had already passed. But yesterday was so gloriously gloomy. The trees, there was one small one on 52nd Street that looked like it was on fire with red. Soup was invented for days like yesterday.

This recipe was tweaked from a Naked Chef recipe for braised leeks. My mom gave me the biscuits, and I'll post the recipe as soon as she forwards it to me--holy crap they're good. And if they were to be listed on any diet, it would be Guiliano's. I think she would endorse eating this light soup with a cream cheese and butter laden biscuit.

Leek Soup:
2 leeks
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 pint chicken/vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Leeks reside comfortably in the onion family; they're much milder than white onions, more akin to spring onions. Coming from the ground, leeks can be pretty dirty, with dirt hiding between the leaves, so be careful as you wash them. Slice the ends off the leeks and continue slicing up the stalk until you get to the leafy part. Finely chop the garlic.

On medium-low heat, melt the butter in a medium pot. Saute the leeks for a minute or two and then toss in the garlic. Throw in the wine and let simmer until it has nearly evaporated. Add the stock. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Bring soup to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until leeks are soft, about 10 minutes. Serve. I plopped a dollop of ricotta cheese onto my soup--pretty good.

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