I’m not good with weeknight suppers. I’m not even just shy of good I’m downright terrible. There’s something about being on my feet all day cooking that makes me not want to stand on my feet and cook anymore when I get home from work. All I can think about is getting on our lazy boy and getting my feet up. Even having the energy to communicate with my husband can be a challenge sometimes. People assume that because I’m a foodie that I always cook and eat the best foods but the truth is…all my good intentions fall on the back burner by mid-week. I can sit an wax lyrical to somebody about how they could plan ahead for the week and what they could cook but do I follow my own advice? Heck no!
Back before my accident if there wasn’t food on set to bring home for dinner then I would often opt for a bowl of yogurt with berries (and homemade granola) for dinner, the same old salad or last nights Indian take away leftovers stir-fried with rice with maybe a sprinkling of fresh coriander….I’m embarrassed to write this. Don was always happy with a quick pasta thrown together with things in the fridge and so that’s how we ate. I’ve just never been able to get my act together on the weekend to make things that I will still want to eat come Wednesday night. Don’t get me wrong- there’s a lot of cooking that takes place on the weekend but that’s just to get three homemade meals on the table over two days- and even if I go to the effort of making a couple of loaves of bread they never make it much past Tuesday. And you can call this an excuse but my fridge is usually so full of ‘work’ come Monday morning that I don’t want it laden with dinner food for the week. In my next house I will have two fridges.
Since my accident there have been some changes to this not being able to plan ahead thing. Partly because I now have somebody else to think about- somebody who’s relying on me to give it a good quality meal three if not more times a day. He/she is growing rapidly and is capable of giving me quite a hefty kick in the tummy these days. Yup, I’m pregnant and yes, in case you were wondering, I got pregnant with my leg in a full length brace. That seems to be what most people are interested in asking these days but that’s all the detail you are getting! My little bambino is due in February which means that assuming this baby follows his own mother’s strict enforcement of punctuality I’m already well over half way. It’s a crazy feeling- there are days when I look at my swelling belly and think- how in the world did this little miracle happen? Now that the cat is out of the bag- there will be more blogging about it…and don’t worry there won’t be any strange food pairings…I haven’t had any cravings. Well, maybe chocolate but that’s just standard!
Now that I’m pregnant Don and I have been thinking about the kind of traditions and values that we want our family to share. In doing so we realized that we had already gotten into a lovely habit ourselves- a late brunch on Sunday followed by an early bowl of soup for dinner in the evening. I like an early supper on Sundays- it has a way of easing that Sunday night stress feeling. In the summer I’m sure it will change but for now as the weather is changing it’s lovely to come home to a hot bowl of soup after a long day at work. I forget sometimes that soup doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be boring and without depth. I’ve found that a little butter makes all the difference, a dash of cream at the end makes it taste more luxurious and special, the quality of the stock is of utmost importance and if you allow your veggies to pick up a little colour before you add the stock there will be so much more flavour to be had.
Of course I realize that I can’t feed my kids soup every night for dinner so I also threw together a big beef casserole this weekend- half to freeze, half for this week. A simple one- beef, onions, carrots, mushrooms a stout beer and beef stock on low and slow for a few hours. I let it simmer in the oven whilst I had soup going on the stove…it was remarkably easy. Now I just have to work on getting meals for the other three weeknight meals.
Leek and Potato soup
Makes 8 cups but it will thicken as it sits so you can loosen it with more water to bulk it out.
3 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 large leeks, cleaned and white and light green parts chopped
3 medium yukon-gold (maris piper, king edwards) potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 cups of good quality chicken or vegetable
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dash of cream to serve, optional but highly recommended
• Heat the butter in a large pot until melted over a medium heat. Add all of your chopped veggies and stir to coat in the butter. Put the lid on and turn the heat down as you let your vegetables soften for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Now remove the lid and turn up the heat allowing the vegetables to begin to caramelize on the bottom of the pan. Add a dash of stock as necessary when the vegetables start to stick and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the sticky bits of the bottom of the pan.
• Once there are little hints of brown of the veggies (5-10 minutes) you can go ahead and add the chicken stock and bring up to the boil.The vegetables will be almost cooked at this point so your soup will probably only need to simmer for 10 minutes.
• Liquidize the soup in a blender until completely smooth and return to the pot. Check for seasoning and when you are ready to serve ladle into hot bowls and drizzle over a touch of cream, if using. Use it.
♦ ♦♦ As this soup cools it will thicken so add extra water if you want to loosen it up