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Potato Leek Soup and the easiest white sauce EVER!

October 1, 2009

Remember the barbecue pork and potato/leek/cabbage casserole I made a few days ago? And that I added way too much milk to the casserole and it turned out weird? Well friends, problems solved! I made Potato Leek (and cabbage) Soup out of it!

The basis of the soup, as with my homemade cream cheese macaroni & cheese, is a white sauce, a.k.a bechamel if you’re going to get fancy and French. The first time I ever made a white sauce, I was going for alfredo. The directions I had (the one time Joy failed me) were slightly vague and I wasn’t sure how things were supposed to work. So as soon as the butter melted, I dumped in the flour, whisked until smooth, and added the milk. What I neglected to do is what gives a white sauce/bechamel its taste – let the flour cook in the butter. A coworker once gave me the easiest ratio for bechamel ever: 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup milk. Here’s a step-by-step recipe:

Basic White Sauce (a.k.a. Bechamel):

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (add a little more, if you like your sauce thin)
salt & pepper to taste (or whatever seasonings you want to add – nutmeg, basil, sage, garlic, etc.)
shredded or cream cheese (optional)

Melt butter in medium- to large-sized saucepan over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble. Whisk in flour a little at a time, whisking until smooth before adding the next tablespoon or two of flour. It will probably bubble and clump up but don’t freak out, just keep whisking. When it is all combined and bubbly and golden (but not brown!) in color, add your milk, still whisking. Whisk until smooth and fully combined. If adding cheese(s), add now and keep whisking until cheeses are fully melted and combined. If adding seasonings, add now. Salt is highly recommended, pepper and others are optional.

Serve over pasta, vegetables, poultry, fish, whatever you want! Or, use as a base for a soup or another sauce.

After I made this, I just sliced the casserole into chunks with a knife in the pan, added the leek-y milk in with a little extra new milk to the sauce, then dumped in the newly cut-up vegetables and cooked over low heat. If you let it simmer too long, the sauce will bind with the milk and start to thicken pretty quickly, so you’ll want to watch it. Mine did that. I might need to add a little extra milk, in fact.

If you wanted to make the soup without having leftover casserole, do this:

Potato Leek (& Cabbage) Soup:

3 large red potatoes, cut into quarters and sliced
2 medium-small leeks, thoroughly washed and sliced
1/4-1/2 a small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 recipe white sauce (see above)
2-4 cups milk
1-2 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel (about 1/4 a 8 oz. package)
shredded sharp provolone
garlic powder
salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add potatoes and cabbage (but not leeks!). Cook until tender and drain. Make white sauce in a large pot (I use a 4 quart stockpot) and add extra milk, cream cheese, provolone, garlic powder, and salt. Stir until smooth. Add potatoes, cabbage, and leeks. Simmer very slowly until leeks are tender and mild (or rather, even more mild). Add more milk if soup is getting too thick for your liking.

Serves 3-4 as a main dish.

There. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? I hope there’s a little leftover for me to bring to work tomorrow. It gets quite cold in our building and in order to save money, they’re trying to keep the heat off for as long as possible, which is understandable. So I bundle up. But sitting all day is not conducive to staying warm! So soup would be nice.

Anywho, just a short update. Things have been super busy lately. School is starting to catch up with me. I knew graduate classes would be hard, but who knew they would simply take up so much time? I’ve been driving a lot. A LOT. My poor car has put on nearly 6,000 miles since I moved out here in June (although, 2,500 of those miles were spent just to get out here).

I haven’t had nearly the time to bake that I want. The clafoutis I made on Saturday was the nearest I’ve gotten in a long time. I really want to make a peach almond oatmeal quick bread (based on the blueberry quick bread recipe), but I don’t know if I’ll have time until Saturday. And then I’ll probably want to sleep in and do nothing as this week (like last week) has been very hectic. We’ll see. Those peaches need eating!

I’d also like to make applesauce this weekend to use up some of the Honeycrisps we bought a while ago (some of which were not very Honeycrisp-like! *frown*). I still want to foray out to New Paltz again for those intriguing Opalescent apples we missed last time (went to the wrong place!). I bet they taste yummy. The boy and I are both anxiously awaiting the arrival of Northern Spy apples, which I think might already be here. Maybe Sunday.

We also went upstate to the boy’s parents’ last weekend, mostly to get Rust Cop put on my car. Alas, it rained all weekend, so we had to reschedule. Happily, we got to go on some long, wet, autumn walks down barely-maintained country roads in our thankfully water-proof hiking boots. I even wore my sunshine yellow scarf because it was cold out. I matched the leaves. We also managed to swing by the Little Falls Community Co-op, where I bought mission figs (for poached dried fruit compote) and currants (for scones) as well as some golden flax, wheat bran, and oat bran (for health), simply because they were ridiculously cheap (the wheat bran was $0.23 for a little bag, people) and I thought it might be fun to experiment with them and/or have them on hand in case a recipe ever calls for them. Or just so I can go looking for recipes that include them. : ) Speaking of cheap, I think my whole bill (subtracting the $18 Peterson’s field guide I bought) was $10. I love that store. They have everything but quinces. Which I can’t find anywhere but want to try someday. And comice pears. Gotta buy me some of them this weekend. Possibly to make pear gingerbread or pear black chocolate cake.

*sigh* Can’t wait until the boy gets home so we can eat! I might add some leftover sausage to the soup, too. Just for a little protein. Man. This is making me hungry. Off to distract myself before I devour the soup and leave nothing for the boy. ; )

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Linnea permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:57 PM

    Speaking of honeycrisp apples, I’m sad that you being in NY will not be able to taste the latest MN apple craze until 2011 – the SweeTango. It’s the latest hybrid from the U of M that you can only get from Pepin Heights in Lake City for the time being. It’s delicious – a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar. Too bad they are $2.99 a pound and hard to come by.

  2. vintagejenta permalink*
    October 1, 2009 7:02 PM

    Hey, $2.99 a pound is not bad! I am jealous. However, I’ve never tasted a Zestar before, either. But we have Northern Spy and Empires and Macouns and all kinds of fun other heirloom varieties. We are anxiously waiting for Northern Spies. They are late ripeners and won’t be available until mid-October. I think they are better than Honeycrisps. Nom, nom, nom. Apples!

    We are going appling on Sunday. Can’t wait to try those Opalescents!

  3. Linnea permalink
    October 2, 2009 8:28 PM

    Yum yum – have fun! I can’t wait to hear what deliciousness you make from your apple adventure 🙂

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