Friday, April 16, 2010

THROW OUT THAT STOCK

Our first family dinner. Billie spent much of it looking bewilderingly at her father. "What is he doing sitting at the other end of the table?" her face appeared to say. Thick leek and potato soup was the perfect meal to sit down to together. In this instance I had a big pot and a little pot side-by-side on the stove - one cooked with vegetable stock and one without. I checked the stock cube ingredients, and although they were organic special Swiss super healthy ones, they still had added salt and other undesirables. I also added milk to our finished soup, but decided Billie had scoffed enough cows milk already that day in her porridge and lunch-time mash-up.

However, when I sampled the little bites and big bites before serving I discovered that Billie's tasted BETTER than our stock-and-milk-variety. Why? Perhaps because I took the pot lid off a little more on hers, allowing the soup to reduce nicely. But maybe the lesson here is that we don't need to be so attached to our stock cubes and dairy additions when making hearty soup. The first recipe below is adapted from one of my mother's, and the latter one I created on the hop:

LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

1 stick of celery
6 medium leeks
2 potatoes
1 stock cube (optional- not for babies)
500mls (2 cups) boiling water
black pepper
1/2 cup milk (optional)
2 tblspns olive oil
1 tblspn butter (optional)

Saute chopped leeks and celery in oil (and butter) until soft. Dissolve stock cube in small amount of boiling water in a cup, add the rest and then pour onto leeks. Add chopped potatoes (no need to peel) and bring to boil. Simmer until very soft. Leave lid slightly ajar so it reduces nicely. Remove from stove and blend with hand-held blender or similar. Stir through milk, if using, and reheat gently. Serve immediately, with bread or toast for the bigger people.

This soup reheats well the next day or so, and also a good one to stash in the freezer.


We all had this EXTRA HEARTY HEALTHY VEGETABLE SOUP the following night. Billie ate a whole large scoop of the very thick version, and looked like she wanted more. We were amazed how good it tasted without any salt, stock or milk.

BROCCOLI AND KUMARA SOUP

2 celery sticks
1 brown onion
1 large kumara (sweet potato)
1 potato (optional)
1 large head of broccoli
olive oil
500 mls boiling water (2 cups)

Saute chopped celery and onions in oil until soft. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and cover with boiling water. Simmer with lid on until very soft. Remove from stove and blend, ensuring the broccoli stalks are well mashed. Serve to babies as is (easier to feed them than a runnier version) and add boiling water to adult portions and reheat. Or just serve everybody a more liquid version. Serve with buttered bread or toast for the bigger people.

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