Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Grunt Work

Bacon, Leek, Potato and Tomato Soup is totally worth the effort.

It’s not all sunshine and roses and rainbows for yours truly in the cucina.
We’re all friends here, so you should know: There are a handful of culinary tasks the Jersey Girl loathes.

1. Cleaning a pan with a Brillo pad. I just skeeve the thought of it. The greasiness, the blue soap embedded in the Brillo, the ick nast factor of it all.

2. Emptying the dishwasher. Hate it. I will put this off for days. And procrastinating goes against all I stand for. But I wait and hope and wait some more for The Husband to do it.

3. Preparing leeks for cookery. Which, brings us to today’s post.

Leeks taste like divinity. But getting them to that point. Oy, vay. It’s a process, dear readers.

So, here’s the dilly-o on leeks. This veg, which is amazing in soups but can also stand on its own as a side, is part of the onion fam. So, the actual part you eat comes from underground. And, when it travels from the farm to your store to your home, there’s still dirt involved.

Like, a ton of dirt. All up in the leeks and it’s many oniony layers. It's like the Pig Pen of veg.

As a result, you must wash, rinse, drain and repeat like a bazillion times.

OK. Maybe not a bazillion. But three. Three is my lucky number. I clean my leeks three times.

Because one speck of dirt will ruin your food. And I’m so not havin’ that.

Behold, my tutorial on leek cleaning:

1. Cut off the bottom and a bit of the rough, dried-out top. Peel off the first layer if it looks dodgy.

2. Slice the leeks into thin discs, about an 1/8-1/4 inch wide.

3. Fill a large bowl with cold water.

4. Place all your leeks into the bold of cold water. Swish around and separate the layers.

5. Drain.

6. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 at least one more time. If the leeks are really gritty, repeat two times.

And onto, a way delish soup featuring Le Leek: BLT and P (Bacon, Leek, Tomato and Potato) Soup.

The recipe comes by way of Rachael Ray.

You didn't think I would give one of my own recipes that hokie name, did ya?

I know, I know, she is a divisive character. But I don’t hate on Rachael Ray. I do own several of her cookbooks, and girlfriend does come up with some yum yum recipes.

However, I do dispute her claims that her recipes take 30 minutes. For instance, the one I’m sharing with you took me about an hour. And, I think there are instances where Ray’s recipes have just way too much going on.

But this soup. This soup is awesome. It’s full of veg, and it’s not heavy. The flavors meld together beautifully. Me and The Husband love it.

So, I hope you dig it, too.

BLT and P (Bacon, Leek, Tomato and Potato) Soup
From “2, 4, 6, 8, Great Meals for Couples or Crowds”
By Rachael Ray

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
6 slices lean, smoky bacon, chopped into ½-inch pieces
3 small celery ribs from the heart, finely chopped
2small or medium carrots
3 leeks, trimmed of rough tops and root ends
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper
3 medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Idaho, peeled
2 quarts chicken stock
1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Crusty bread, for dunking and mopping

Heat a medium soup pot or deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the bacon to the hot pan. Cook the bacon until it is brown and crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve. Drain off all but 2 Tablespoons of the remaining fat and return to the heat. Add the chopped celery and cook over medium heat. As the celery cooks, use the vegetable peeler to make long, thin strips of the carrots. Chop the thin strips into small bits or carrot chips, ½ inch wide. Add the chips to the celery and stir. Halve the leeks lengthwise and then cut into ½-inch half moons. Place the slices into a colander and run them under cold water, separating all the layers to wash away the trapped grit. When the leeks are clean, shake off the water and add them to the celery and carrots. Stir the veggies together, add the bay leaf, and season them with salt and pepper. While the leeks cook to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes, slice the potatoes.

Cut each potato crosswise into thirds. Stand each potato third upright and thinly slice it. The pieces will look like raw potato chips.

Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the potatoes and tomatoes. Cook them for 8 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and start to break up a bit. Add the bacon and parsley and stir. Discard the bay leaf and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

4 Servings.

Please note: The Jersey Girl cleans her leeks in the step-by-step process listed above well before starting to cook. She also does not drain her diced tomatoes. She uses low-sodium bacon and low-sodium chicken broth.


  1. Oh Suzie be happy you have a dishwasher! It's very rare to come across a house in Japan with one, alas, we must do without. But I hate, hate hate putting away dishes. It's like laundry - I don't mind washing, I don't mind folding. But getting the laundry out of the basket and into the drawers?? OMG a total different story.

    & wait til you hear that I don't have a garbage disposal either!

  2. OMG, Marissa. I'm so sorry to sound like a complainy complainer who complains. I loathe those peeps. I will stop right now.

    No wonder you don't get all starry-eyed while cooking!