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June 13, 2009

 

            Welcome back to the kitchen. There are more

fresh ingredients at the farmers markets each week. We have lots of awesome recipe directions we could go in, so

let your creativity run wild and your curiosity guide you. I’ve found myself inspired by beautiful local

leeks and tender fresh tarragon, which has come in at my house in abundance.

            Leeks have a great natural sweetness that

really seems to come out in a soup. So I’ve been playing around with a leek and lentil soup with some tangy

tarragon crème fraise and fried garlic scapes. These thin green tops of the garlic with really bring the

soup together.

I’ve gone with a leek and lentil

soup here, but a classic cream of leek soup would certainly taste good as well. Sound good? Let’s get to

cooking.

 
Leek and

Lentil Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraise

 

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">-1 pound leeks

Discard about ½ the greens, or save them for the herbs to season the stock. Slice the rest of each leek

into thin strips. Make sure you split your leeks up the center and carefully wash out all the dirt before you

chop them up. While delicious, this onion cousin loves to soak up grit.

 
-4-6 small, early sweet

carrots

            Chopped into soup spoon sized

chunks

 
-2 stalks of

celery

            Also roughly chopped.

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-2 cups of dried lentils

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">            Pick out

any stones and give them a rinse. The nice thing about lentils is we don’t have to soak them, so this is

a much quicker recipe.

 
-1 small bunch of garlic scapes, about 1/3 pound
            We’ll crisp up these long,

tasty garlic greens in some olive oil and add them to the top of the soup at the very end. You could also just

chop up 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and add them directly to the soup instead.

 
-1 bouquet garni
            A fancy French word for a mixture

of fresh herbs tied together with butcher’s twine or wrapped in a cheesecloth teabag. We’ll use

whatever’s fresh, look for thyme, rosemary, savory, parsley, and bay leaves (not local but important to the

flavor of any soup or stew). The nice thing about having all the herbs together is we will get them to impart

their flavor, then pull out all the woody stems at once before serving.

 
-4 tablespoons olive oil
 
-1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">            As

I’m sure you know by now, this is the grated outer peel of the citrus fruit, which contains the aromatic

essential oils that impart an awesome zing!

 

"margin: 0in 0in 0pt">-2 quarts chicken or veggie stock

            Organic is better, homemade is by far

the best. Oryou can also use plain old water, just add a bit more salt to the soup. Speaking of

which…

 
-A dash of

sea salt and a big grind of black pepper

 

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">-(optional) 2 tablespoons miso paste

            Use this rich fermented bean paste

instead of most of the salt for a great depth of flavor, but again use less if you are using pre-made

stock.

 
For the

tarragon crème fraise:

 
-1 cup crème fraise or sour cream
 
-1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon

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-1 pinch lime zest

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            OK, lets get started with this soup. Take

out a stock pot and start heating up 2 tablespoons olive oil over a medium high heat. When the oil starts to

shimmer, toss in the sliced leeks and let them sauté til they star to brown a bit. Now we can add in the

rest of the veggies and turn down the heat to medium. Saute for another 5 minutes or so.

            Now add the stock and or water

until the veddies are well covered over. Pouwr in the lentils and add the salt, pepper, lemon zest, and bouquet

garni or fresh herb bunch. Bring everything to a boil together then back it way down to a simmer. Cover and cook

over a low heat for about 45 minutes. You can cook it in less, but I like everything to be nice and

tender.

           

The longer we cook the leek and lentil soup, the more the beans will break down and thicken this all up, so we

don’t even have to run any of it through the blender.

 
            Ok, while the soup is simmering, lets fry up

some garlic scapes. There are a couple ways to cook these garlic greens. Deep frying will likely give a much

crispier result than pan fried, but who really has a fryolator sitting around the kitchen? Rubbed in olive oil and

baked might yield crispy scapes. But I don’t really like to run the oven much once it turns to summer, so

I’m just going to heat up some olive oil til it is quite hot, then pan fry the garlic scapes on a medium

heat without stirring them too much. Get the scapes as crispy as possible without actually burning them. We can

set these aside on a towel while we serve out the soup.

            Mmm, this smells great. Let’s portion

this hearty leek and lentil soup into individual bowls. Fincely chop up the tarragon and mix it into the

crème fraise with the lime zest. Swirl a dollop of this mixture over each bowl.

To make the crème fraise swirl look professional, just grab a clean

squeeze bottle from the recycling and fill it up with the tarragon mixture. Then squeeze out a swirl or a floawer

or whatever other food art you are moved to create. Now gently lay the crispy garlic scapes over the top of each

bowl, and serve. Viola! I think this would go great with some fresh hot bread a big side salad of fresh garden

greens, which are growing locally in abundance. Toss up your greens with some pea shoots, edible nasturtium

flowers, and a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A perfect, healthy summer meal.

Nice work everyone. I’d love to hear what magic you are creating from

fresh, local ingredients. Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m saac Kaplan-Woolner.

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