Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Day Three: Leek and Potato

This morning I went down our local street market, East Street and spent a fiver on a bag of veg, including three kilos of leeks. I had the idea I wanted to do a chunkier soup that's not blended, but still had a thickened consistency, so in this recipe, I mashed the potato and dissolved it in the soup to give a creamy background against which the flavour of the leeks stands out.

Because this soup isn't blended, I took extra special care to cut the carrot/onion/celery base into a fine dice and cooked that in the bottom of the pot with a couple of bay leaves, lid on, while finely shredding the leeks. Leeks, BTW, have to be thoroughly washed: peel off the outer leaves and slit the leek length-wise before washing it under running water to rinse out any lingering traces of mud.

Rick the homeless guy was first through the door, around midday, before the soup was ready. Following the incendiary incident and with the vicar's connivance, he's relocated to a shed in the churchyard of St John's in Larcom Street, but is hopeful that soon he'll get a bedsit through St Mungo's. Helpfully, he vacuumed the carpet and mopped the lino before being the first to sample the soup of the day.

I sweated the shredded leeks with the cooked mirepoix and at the same time steamed half a kilo of peeled potatoes. When the leeks were cooked, I poured over three litres of boiling Marigold bouillon to fill the six litre pot and mashed the cooked spuds through a ricer directly into the soup, which immediately thickened it.

I chopped some parsley for garnish and, bizarrely, discovered an unopened jar of pesto in the 'fridge, so I was able to offer the option of a dollop of the stuff in the soup. I thought this worked pretty well and Rick agreed. He wrote in the log bok: "Just Right Nothing Better". Kai from Crampton Street wrote, who is also becoming a regular, wrote, "your soup just keeps getting better".

One of the blokes working on the exterior renovation of the estate complained, obliquely, that his soup wasn't salty enough. It's true that I don't add salt to my soups and a couple of people have remarked upon it. I reckon that's because these people are smokers and their taste buds are clogged!

I anticipated that more workmen would take advantage of a warm place to eat their sandwiches, not to mention free soup, but word evidently hasn't got round yet. However, if anyone knows the Bulgarian for 'free soup', the place could apparently get packed out v. quickly! Rick said he'd taken one of the Soup Kitchen flyers to Webber Street, which didn't exactly fill me with glee, and I gently explained that the Pullens Soup Kitchen is primarily intended to serve Pullens people.

Speaking of Pullens people, Linda Brooker was in today, adding a copious sprinkling of salt to her soup. Turns out that the big pot Gabrielle used to use when he ran the cafe at the Centre a few years ago belongs to her and she brought it back, so now we have a 16 litre pot to work with, if things get busier. As it goes, the last bit of soup went home with Jen York , who came in at the end of the day with Esme, six, and brought with her a saucepan for Shanti, 14, to have hot soup after school.

Soup Maker: Russell
Soup: Leek and potato
Other ingredients: Bay leaves, parsley/pesto
No. of bowls served: 14
Expenditure: Fiver
Donations: £11.15
Running balance: +£8.24

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