Onion Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes & Fried Herbs

This was the first course to my 6-course Friendsgiving party for 3 people.

I think I saw this in Bon Appétit Magazine two years ago and I thought that I would use it this year. It was originally going to be on last year’s menu but I ran out of time.

Serves 3.

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[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • ¼ cup butter (half stick)
  • 3 large leeks, white & pale green parts only
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ head garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice leeks in half lengthwise, wash out the sand/dirt and thinly slice crosswise.

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add and sweat the leeks, onion, and garlic, and season with salt. Stirring often, cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add ½ cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft, 15–20 minutes.

Turn off heat and add the milk, cream, and yogurt. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Turn heat back on and adding water, by ¼-cupfuls, until the soup is thick enough to hold potatoes without sinking but thin enough that a spoon dragged across the top doesn’t leave a trail. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the Finish

  • 1 Idaho potato
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 2 basil sprigs
  • Salt
  • Chive oil

Peel potato and cut into thin matchsticks. Rinse potato in a colander under cold water until water runs clear; pat dry completely. Pick all the herbs and set aside.

Fit a medium saucepan (with thermometer) and pour in oil to measure 2”. Heat over medium-high until thermometer is at 350°F. Working in batches and returning the oil to 350°F between batches, add potato by the handful and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a spider, transfer potatoes to paper towels to drain. Fry herbs until parsley is translucent, about 15 seconds. Season with salt after each batch.

For extra crispiness, place in dehydrator or 110°F oven.

Serve soup topped with a nest of potatoes and herbs, and a drizzle of chive oil.

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Brown Butter Gnocchi, Baby Taro, Tomatoes, Shimeji Mushrooms & Watercress with Shiitake Consommé

I always like doing an ambitious dish because it’s fun and I get to spend the whole day cooking. Yesterday was really ambitious because I made three things; the cauliflower-kale soup, used the leftover dill for pork dumplings, and this. Even though this dish took forever, the final result was sooooo delicious. I had to refrain myself from drinking the shiitake mushroom by itself because this was a very labor-intensive process!

I had a lot of vegetable scraps from the cauliflower-kale soup and the trimmings of the raft ingredients so I made my own vegetable stock for this consommé. Just FYI, the organic carrots that I use are as thick as your fingers.

[100% organic]

For the Gnocchi

  • 1 large Idaho potato
  • ¼ cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Olive oil

Cook the potato with its skin on in cold water with the bay leaf and thyme until done. Drain, and peel the skin. If you have a food mill, process them. If not, like me, mash finely with a fork and allow to cool.

Sift the flour over the potatoes and add in the salt, cheese, egg, and using your hands, work the ingredients into a soft dough ball. Do not overwork!

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut off pieces of the dough and using your hands, roll into cylinder shapes. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Press the gnocchi lightly with the tines of a fork or roll them off a gnocchi board. Cook the gnocchi in the salted water and gnocchi are done once they float to the top of the water. Shock in ice water, drain, and transfer to a large tray. Drizzle olive oil over gnocchi to prevent sticking.

For the Consommé

  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, julienned
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • Salt

In a stockpot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil and then turn off the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes.

Place all ingredients – shallots, celery, carrots, shiitake, tomato paste, egg whites, bay leaf, thyme – in a bowl and whisk gently. Add the warm vegetable stock into the bowl and whisk well. Pour the mixture back into the stockpot and bring to a simmer, while stirring often.

A raft will foam and by this point, stop stirring or else you’ll break the raft. At a low simmer, cook for 1 hour. Do not stir or boil. Poke a hole in the center with a ladle and use the ladle to pour the liquid over the raft once in awhile. This will moisten the raft and will further the clarification process.

When the hour is up, turn off heat, and let it to rest for 10 minutes. Then carefully use a ladle to pass it through a chinois lined with cheesecloth. Transfer to a clean pot and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and keep warm.

For the Other Garnitures & Finish

  • Tomatoes
  • Baby taro
  • Shimeji mushrooms
  • Watercress
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Tomatoes: cut “x” on the tomatoes, season lightly with salt and olive oil, and bake in a preheated oven at 300°F for 20 minutes. You still want the tomatoes to be firm and remove the skin. Set aside and keep warm.

Baby Taro: boil a pot of salted water. Add in the taro once water is boiling and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove from water and cut into obliques. Set aside and keep warm.

Shimeji Mushrooms: boil in salted water, set aside and keep warm.

Watercress: wash and pick through, saving the nice sprigs for garnish.

Gnocchi: melt butter and wait for butter to turn a light brown color. Sauté the gnocchi immediately and season lightly with salt. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

TO ASSEMBLE

In a shallow bowl, arrange tomatoes, taro, gnocchi, and mushrooms in the center. Ladle consommé into bowl and top with watercress garnish. Serve immediately.

Cream of Pea Soup with Chorizo

I had some leftover frozen peas and I saw some fresh peas at the farmer’s market today so I decided to make some soup. This soup tastes great hot and cold. Now I have Katy Perry’s song stuck in my head.

[100% organic]

For the Pea Soup

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, roughly chopped in 2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1¼ lbs fresh peas, shucked
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche
  • Salt & pepper

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil to medium heat. Add onions and garlic, add a little salt to draw out moisture. Sweat until soft and translucent. Then add in chopped potatoes along with the 2 cups of water and chicken stock and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil and bring down to a simmer on medium-low heat, continue to boil for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, turn heat to high and add in the peas. Cook until peas are soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth then add in crème fraîche and continuing blending. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Cool immediately to retain the bright green color.

For the Chorizo

  • 2-inch chorizo sausage, small cubes
  • 3 TBS olive oil

In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot then add in cubed chorizo. Let the chorizo cook for a few minutes then turn off heat. Let the chorizo steep in the pan and then drain, reserve oil as well.

For the Croutons

  • 2 slices white bread
  • 2 TBS butter

Cut off the crust of the bread and then cut into small cubes. In a hot sauté pan, melt the butter and toss the cubed bread. Toss evenly until golden, drain on paper towels and set aside.

For the Finish

  • Cilantro leaves, as needed

TO ASSEMBLE

For hot soup, heat the soup only until warm because too much heat will ruin the color. Pour soup into bowl and garnish with chorizo, croutons, chorizo oil, and cilantro leaves.

Thai Corn Chowder

I’m in garde manger, and level 5 has a corn chowder on their menu. My group sneaked a few ladles of it because it is so delicious!!!! It tasted like pure “heart attack” – reduced cream and sweet corn. I thought the soup was odd for the current season. If I was dining at L’Ecole on a hot humid day, I would not want hot creamy soup as my appetizer. Even in the kitchen, we were taking sips of it and then mouthfuls of ice cold water because it’s so hot in the kitchen. For the first two days, I was working on the lobster dish, which is a cold dish. I wasn’t even near the stove yet my legs were trickling with sweat! Nahhhh-stayyy!!

I was going to make an exact replica of the corn bisque from school but it’s so unhealthy. There was bacon grease, reduced cream, and lots and lots of butter!!! I like Thai influences so I came up with this. And it tasted BETTER; better in my opinion since it’s healthier!!!! No butter. No cream. No milk.

[100% organic]

For the Chowder

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ears corn, shucked and cores reserved (broken in half)
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, chopped into small squares
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS Ginger, grated
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested with a peeler
  • Bouquet garni – 8 black peppercorns, Thai basil, cilantro stems, lemongrass
    stalk (smashed & cut into thirds), lime zest
  • One 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • EVOO
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper

In a large pot/pan, heat extra virgin olive oil over low heat and then sweat onions until translucent. Add smashed garlic, ginger,  and leek whites and continue to sweat until soft. Season gently. Add in the celery, potato, corn cores, bouquet garni, and enough water to cover halfway. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Then add in corn kernels and lime juice to pot and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Remove cores and add in coconut milk until boiling. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until simmering. Remove from the heat and strain and then blend with an immersion or regular blender.

For the Finnish

  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro leaves, garnish

Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with radishes and cilantro leaves. Soup can be either hot or cold to serve.

Chilled Asparagus Soup with Salmon, Lotus Root, Shaved Fennel & Golden Beets

The previous asparagus soup wasn’t as green as I had hoped so in this recipe, I added parsley purée to it and it was much greener.

There is a dish at work that is beautifully presented — before you pour in the cold soup. At school, in garde manger, we always waste so much cut food at the end of the night so I brought home the shaved fennel that we didn’t use so I wouldn’t need to buy it myself!

[100% organic, farmed salmon from Norway]

For the Soup

  • 1 bunch (approx. 1 lb) asparagus
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
  • 4 tarragon sprigs, leaves picked
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, fully packed
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS crème fraîche
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cut off 1.5-inch at the ends of each asparagus, compost/discard. Roughly chop into ½-inch pieces, including the heads.

In a small pot, bring salted water to boil. Add in the asparagus heads and gently boil until soft, 6-8 minutes. Remove from hot water immediately and then plunge it in cold water + ice. Once heads are cold, drain from water and set aside.

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil on medium-low heat and melt the butter. Then sweat the onions until soft and translucent. Season a little bit with salt. Add the smashed garlic cloves and tarragon leaves and continue sweating for 1 minute. Turn the heat on high and add in the chopped asparagus and potatoes. Add enough cold water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a blender, add the parsley leaves and a little bit of water to get the blender going. Remove and set aside.

Purée soup using an immersion blender and blend in the crème fraîche and parsley purée. Adjust seasoning. Transfer puréed soup to a clean pot and cool over an ice bath. When cool, refrigerate until needed.

For the Garnish

  • Chives, finely chopped
  • Chervil, as needed
  • Salmon sashimi, cut into small rectangles
  • 1 small lotus root
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved with mandolin, reserve the fronds
  • 1 small golden beet

For the lotus root, peel and then shave with a mandolin. Make sure to place shaved lotus root in a bowl with water and a little bit of vinegar. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lotus root for a couple of minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath, drain again and set aside.

For the fennel bulb, wash and remove damaged areas. Reserve the fronds for later. Cut off the root/stem and then, using a mandolin, shave the fennel to very thin pieces. Place in water and ice. The iced water will help the fennel shavings to curl.

For the golden beet, slice it very thinly by using a mandolin. Then place in ice water and set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE

Wrap a lotus root shaving around a piece of salmon and arrange in a cold soup bowl. Place fennel shavings in the middle and scatter chervil, chopped chives, sliced beets, and garnish with fennel fronds.

In a separate container/pot/ramekin, place cold soup in it and serve by pouring asparagus soup into bowl with garniture.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

For two weeks now, I’ve been consuming a mostly liquid diet: vegetable-bound soups with crème fraîche and fresh fruit smoothies with nonfat yogurt. I’ve been even more healthy than usual. The only protein that I’ve been eating have been shrimp and eggs.

Anyway, I was never a big fan of asparagus because of the foul smell it turns your urine into. But it’s spring and beautiful outside and asparagus is everywhere, and cheap too. I’m always seeing asparagus soup on menus but I’ve never tried it myself.

[100% organic]

For the Soup

  • 1 bunch (approx. 1 lb) asparagus
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
  • 4 tarragon sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS crème fraîche
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cut off 1.5-inch at the ends of each asparagus, compost/discard. Cut off the heads of the asparagus and set aside. For the rest of the asparagus, roughly chop into ½-inch pieces.

In a small pot, bring salted water to boil. Add in the asparagus heads and gently boil until soft, 6-8 minutes. Remove from hot water immediately and then plunge it in cold water + ice. Once heads are cold, drain from water and set aside.

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil on medium-low heat and melt the butter. Then sweat the onions until soft and translucent. Season a little bit with salt. Add the smashed garlic cloves and tarragon leaves and continue sweating for 1 minute. Turn the heat on high and add in the chopped asparagus and potatoes. Add enough cold water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Purée soup using an immersion blender and blend in the crème fraîche. Adjust seasoning. Transfer puréed soup to a clean pot and keep warm, covered.

For the Garnish

  • Asparagus heads
  • Croutons, as needed
  • Chives, finely chopped
  • Toasted pine nuts, as needed
  • Tarragon leaves, as needed

TO ASSEMBLE

Bring soup back to a simmer, adjust seasoning, and garnish with the ingredients listed above. To make your own croutons, toss cubed pieces of bread in butter on medium heat until golden. Serve immediately.

Cut Vegetable Soup

I was going to make potage cultivateur, a rustic French cut vegetable soup but I couldn’t find the correct bacon or salted pork at Whole Foods Market so I thought, screw it. I’ll make it vegan instead; no bacon, no butter.

Two adjustments to make the soup a little Asian: I don’t like turnips so I substituted that for daikon radish and I don’t like savoy cabbage so I put in napa cabbage. I didn’t add haricot verts because it’s such a hassle. Also, the cut for the soup is supposed to be in paysanne (thin little tiles) but does it look like I’m made out of money? I don’t have the luxury to block everything and then throw the scraps to the “compost” bin or the trash. I have to utilize all the trimmings – some of the trimmings went to make the vegetable stock. You could always use water but using vegetable stock gives the soup double the concentration of flavor!

[100% organic]

Ingredients

  • 2 leeks, washed thoroughly, white + pale green (thinly sliced) separated from dark green parts (roughly chopped)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced and separated into two equal parts
  • 8 celery stalks, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 5 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large daikon radish, thinly sliced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, thinly sliced in cold stock
  • Half napa cabbage, chiffonade
  • ½ cup peas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 8½ cups (2 liters) vegetable stock
  • Salt & pepper

Start by making a vegetable stock. Sweat the leek greens, onions, and other vegetable trimmings (optional: include a few cloves of garlic, thyme and parsley sprigs) in a little EVOO and add more water than the 8½ cups due to water evaporation. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock and reserve a separate bowl of stock over ice for the sliced potatoes.

In a small pot, boil water and heat frozen peas until cooked through. Shock in ice water and drain, set aside.

Sweat white and pale green leeks, carrots, celery, and daikon in a little olive oil for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and bring the simmer to a gentle boil for another 10 minutes. Add the cabbage and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. At the very end, add in the peas.

Serve with toasted baguette slices (optional: topped with melted Gruyère cheese).

*Adapted from the French Culinary Institute.