Spud Lust Hungry Peasant Soup

Spudly gratification on a budget.

Oi, my new work gig is keeping me busy. Last week the only new thing I managed to cook up was a batch of brownies, and while they prompted spontaneous ecstasies from people I’m more than happy to spontaneously ecstasy, I can’t really pass them off as my own. Head on over to Sweetest Menu if you want the wickedest, fudgiest crackly-top brownies ever made without eggs or dairy (and without gluten if you use 1-to1 flour). You can’t mess them up even at an elevation, because there’s no baking soda or powder involved. What? HOW IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE?? You’ll have to ask Jess, I think she’s a veg-genie. (Say that a few times fast.)

After all my anticlimactic potato exploits recently, and given that I’m still waiting on my first check, I thought I’d share a basically foolproof recipe that’s helped sustain me in some very lean times. I’ll make no secret of the fact that I’ve had to avail myself of food banks and even EBT in the past, and I’m a fierce proponent of delicious, healthy, plant-based food for everyone regardless of income (let’s hear it for urban gardening, woot!). And the humble spud is much more than just another starchy carb. It contains protein, potassium, fiber, vitamin B6 and even vitamin C – there’s a reason it’s been a staple of peasant cuisine for centuries. The commingling of two underground storage organs (with very little else) makes for a surprisingly delicious, rustic soup you can serve to a fancy auntie as well as your favorite sweaty laborer, fresh from the wheatfield or woodpile…

I’m sorry, what was I saying? There’s no expensive or extensive ingredient list here – you could even chop a large yellow onion if that’s all you have available – and if you have oil, salt, and pepper in your pantry, this 4-6 serving soup will cost only around $3 depending upon your grocery store/market and the season.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes (about 2-3 medium sized), scrubbed, skins-on, any tough eyes removed, quartered lengthwise and sliced in about 1/4″ slices
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cups water

Soak the sliced leeks in a bowl of water to separate them and remove the sand, which will sink to the bottom. They can sit while you chop the potatoes and heat the olive oil on low-medium in a soup pot or dutch oven. Fish out the leeks with a slotted spoon – it’s fine to get some water in the pot – and add them to the oil with 1/2 tsp of the salt, stirring to coat and saute them for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the potatoes, the rest of the salt, and several turns/dashes of the pepper and toss thoroughly with the leeks before lowering the heat and covering them for 5-10 minutes to cook. Add the 6 cups of water and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. You can use a wooden spoon or spatula to smash some potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the broth; since I’ve had a mini blender, I just take out a couple of cups and puree it before adding it back into the pot. Add more pepper (and salt if you want it) to taste, and serve at the pleasure of your household proletariat. Leftovers will keep a few days in the refrigerator, and they freeze well.

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