Taters gonna tate

After 2 weeks working the night shift, it’s nice to join the rest of the world again. Switching schedules back and forth is kind of rough. I finish the evening shift and try to stay up as long as I can to help readjust. Luckily, there’s always cooking to keep me moving along so I don’t pass out in the middle of the day. So I decided to use my transition day this past weekend to go on a long run and make one of my favorite soups, potato leek.

I had made a large batch of broth that I used for soup base of this particular recipe. The ingredients to potato leek soup aren’t all that sophisticated, but the execution is all in the texture and final consistency you are going for (light vs creamy). Personally, I prefer my potato leek soup a bit more smooth and light, but there are ways to change the consistency based on how much and how fast you end up blending the final product. Contrary to popular belief, the longer and harder you blend, the less smooth your final soup will be. This is because you break up the starch in the potatoes, creating a more gooey and creamy texture. Blend too long and too hard and you might end up with an unfortunate gluey mess rather than a smooth soup.

Potato Leek Soup

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Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (Russet preferred)                         6
  • Leeks (only white ends)                                2
  • Broth
  • Butter                                                                  4 T
  • Heavy cream
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Green onions/Chives

Start by peeling your potatoes and chopping them into large chunks. Place the large chunks in a bowl of ice water while you work on the leeks so they don’t turn brown. Chop leeks and set aside. In a large pot, start melting butter on medium high heat. Be careful with the heat so as not to caramelize the leeks or brown the butter. We want the final product to be a nice creamy yellow color. Add leeks to the pot and cook until soft. Drain the potato chunks and add them to the pot. Add enough broth to pot so you just cover the potatoes and let simmer until potatoes are soft and falling apart.

In a blender, scoop out your mixture potato, leeks, and broth. Add a dash of heavy cream (it adds a nice tang) and a teaspoon of nutmeg (I don’t know why this makes it taste better but trust me). Add salt to taste. Blend the mixture on low until you get the consistency you want. Pour into bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and crack some fresh black pepper. Garnish with chopped scallions/chives and serve.

Pass out in a tater-induced coma after.

D

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Souper Flavorful Broth

An undeniable new coolness and crispness in the air undoubtedly signals the beginning of my favorite season. If I wrote a dictionary entry for fall, it would probably read: Fall (noun): A time for tromping through leaves, apple picking, root vegetables, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all kinds of soup! See also: the best season.

Unfortunately, I’ve been spending most of these past weeks working the night shift from 5PM-6AM. Oddly enough, based on Sarah’s usual hours on transplant surgery from 6 AM-6 (usually 7 or 8)PM, I still get to see a bit more sunlight than she does now that our days are getting shorter. Being on opposite schedules sucks as I was also just working nights in the ED prior. In the past 2 weeks, I think we’ve only logged a total of 1.25 days where we’ve both been conscious in-person at the same time and able to carry on a conversation. So we definitely had to take advantage of this past Sunday by spending a good chunk of it wandering through Rock Creek Park. The leaves are already starting to fall and change color. We tromped through the park, scaling up rock faces, and catching each other up on the occurrences of the last 2 weeks as I occasionally dashed off to pursue a preying mantis. And of course, we had to talk about what recipes we want to try out this season as well.

Chances are if you’ve been to a ramen restaurant, you’ve noticed that many of them feature a 12-24 hour broth that is packed with flavor. Chances are that most of us also do not have that much time to spare when it comes to creating a broth/soup base. So here’s a little work around to get the most flavor in the least amount of time. One of my most utilized wedding gifts has to be the Instapot. This contraption  is awesome. Its easy pressure cooker function is key.

What is pressure cooking? 

Be nice to your pressure cooker and read the safety instructions prior to use. Rule of thumb to avoid explosive results: if the lid doesn’t want to come off, don’t pry it off and sure as hell don’t stick your face over the pot if you’re foolish enough to try to force the lid off.  Fun fact: the first pressure cooker was invented back in the 1600s by a French guy named Denis! In a pressure cooker, the closed system does not allow for liquid to boil in the conventional sense. Instead, as the temperature increases in the liquid, the pressure build up in the pot forces the heat energy/steam generated by liquid back into the food, raising the actual cooking temperature and forcing a lot of flavor back into the liquid. Another cool trick for pho broth which is supposed to be nice and clear is to make it in the pressure cooker so you can avoid having to constantly skim the top of the broth for impurities. All this because you never raise the temp to a boil which makes your broth cloudy.

The best part of making your own broth is that you can customize the flavors exactly how you want and end up cross utilizing a lot of vegetable or chicken scraps. Below is just an example of some ingredients I use for a chicken broth.

Asian-style chicken Broth

Processed with Snapseed.

Noodles, sliced shiitake mushrooms, Chinese mustard greens, bean sprouts, scallions, and a soft boiled egg

  • chicken bones/carcass scraps (you may roast prior for extra flavor)
  • carrots
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • onion
  • lemon grass
  • thai basil
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • white pepper
  • salt

Throw all of this into your pressure cooker. Fill it up with water and salt to taste and let the contraption do its thing. After it’s done, sieve out all of the scraps which should leave you a nice flavorful broth.

If you want the most flavor out of your ramen, everything (noodles, vegetables, egg) should be cooked in the broth after it comes out of the pressure cooker. Put your ingredients in a bowl and scoop some more broth on top of it to finish.

D