Monday, October 15, 2007

Day 11: Leek & Potato

I don't disrespect St. Delia, no matter what footy-related shenanigans she gets up to. Indeed, if I were Scroobius Pip, remixing 'Thou Shalt Always Kill', I'd command that 'thou shall not desecrate the good name of Delia, nor cast aspersions upon the integrity of her commercial relationships'. I yield to no cook in my enthusiasm for Marigold bouillon powder, so I can hardly sneer when Deals declares it 'without doubt an ingredient that has revolutionised modern cooking'.

But then you check Delia's recipe for Leek, Onion and Potato Soup and she says, 'This is my most favourite soup in the world and now we can buy extremely good mashed potato frozen it means we can be a little bit more spontaneous about the whole process of soup making'. Oh right, Deals, Q.E.D. The good folks at McCain bring out their frozen discs of Simply Mash and the world is a better place. No doubt the Catholic church will soon ordain women priests while the Canaries qualify for European competition.

Today's L & P differs from Day Three's in that it's blended whereas that one was chunky. In that recipe, I used my mashed potato (not McCain's) in the manner Delia describes, as a 'backdrop to other ingredients', but in this version, I'm going to blend the soup anyway, so I don't need to make mash separately. In order to get a nice creamy texture, Delia uses milk and butter, but I'm going to experiment with creamed coconut to add texture rather than flavour to the soup while keeping it vegan.

First I needed to locate the ingredients and somehow - since it's a Monday and there's no market down East Street and because I wasn't very together this morning - I ended up in Tesco. Blimey, they really run those places for their own convenience, innit? Took ages at the checkout because the machinery didn't work and the operator struggled to weigh 2.5 kilos of leeks (@ £2.28/kg) in three instalments. On the plus side, I got a 2.5kg bag of Desiree spuds for 89p.

Starting with a mirepoix of onion, celery and carrot, sweated in a big knob of Flora, I alternately added shredded leek and diced potato to the pot, keeping the lid on. I kept back a couple of the leeks, shredded and sautéed them separately. I added two litres of Marigold bouillon to the sweated vegetables, whacked the heat up and boiled vigorously for about ten minutes, then added another couple of litres of bouillon, turned the heat off and left the pot to cool for ten minutes before blending.

Meanwhile, I melted a block of creamed coconut in boiling water and added it to the sautéed, shredded leeks. Then I tasted the mixture and suffered a crisis of confidence because coco-leek is a bit weird. I briefly considered having two soups, but then I told myself not to be silly and stirred the coco-leek mixture into the blended soup, along with another couple of litres of bouillon (making a total six litres of bouillon in all, to two-and-a-half kilos each of leeks and potatoes) then returned the pot to the heat and brought it to the boil. Right on cue, my upstairs neighbour, Cathy, came in and she had the first bowl. She didn't mention anything about coconuts, but she did write in the log bok that the soups are 'getting better by the day'.

In fact, the barely perceptible coconut flavour attracted little comment. Joe here certainly didn't mention it. A trio trooped in from the Buddhist Centre and one of them remarked upon it, favourably, and another one of the regulars later picked up on it, but nobody had anything bad to say. I noticed how the coconut fat continued to thicken the soup after it had been reheated a few times while the flavour faded even further into the background as lunch time wore on. There was a bit of rush again today and I served 28 bowls of soup by 3pm.

Soup Maker: Russell
Soup: Leek & Potato
Other ingredients: Creamed coconut
No. of bowls served: 28
Expenditure: £12.77
Donations: £36.01
Running balance: +£116

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