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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gotta Love Leeks

Do you have one of those ingredients that never fail you? For me, it is leeks.  A lot of people in the U.S. don't use, or even know what a leek is, and I think that is a crying shame.  Leeks are a member of the allium family (like garlic and onions) and are incredibly good for you.  Packed with flavor and nutrients, they can be used in soups, roasted in the oven, sauteed...the possibilities are endless!

In the market, look for leeks that are like green onions on steriods.  Crisp, with no dried out or limp tops.

But, a word of caution on the preparation.  Leeks are dirty, dirty veggies.  So wash them carefully by slicing and soaking in a bowl of water, making sure to separate the layers of the leek.  So, now that you have met one of our principle players in today's meal, let's get dressed.

It has been very warm and sunny here, so shorts are in order (finally!)  Since I have a soccer game to attend this evening, I went for a casual look with a pair of BKE jean shorts (no, these are NOT your mom's jean shorts!)

Add a lovely sheer tunic...(Just make sure the length of the tunic is not too long for the shorts. We don't want to look as if we have nothing on underneath!)

And a pair of snakeskin wedges, and you are good to go!

Since my outfit is quite simple I thought some accessories are in order.

There is something so lovely about the emphasis of a woman's slender wrist when she wears a cuff that I adore...

And, I have had these snake earrings since high school.  I get so many compliments on them, and I do love that they have a bit of daring to them.

Dressed and ready to cook, my lovelies? Let's head to the kitchen!

With the warm weather, I was in the mood for a light and healthy soup, so I turned to my good friend, Martha.  Martha Stewart, that is.

Martha Stewart's Provencal Vegetable Soup:

2 T. olive oil
4 leeks, sliced and cleaned (see above)
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
2 cans cannelini, drained and rinsed (okay, I cheated here, she recommends cooking fresh...)
6 cups chicken stock
1 large bunch kale
1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, 1 large bunch fresh thyme, and 2 sprigs rosemary tied in a cheese cloth)
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper-I used white pepper)

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add leeks and onions and saute gently, until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and carrots, saute for 5 minutes more.  Add garlic.  Add chicken stock and bouquet garni, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add cannelini and kale, simmer for 10 minutes more.  Remove bouquet garni (remember to squeeze all that flavor out before throwing away!) Season with salt and pepper.

Uncork a bottle of lovely Vouvrey, add a few fresh baguettes, with European unsalted butter, and you are set! Better yet, throw a tablecloth over your patio table and eat outside-Provence style!

Cheers, my lovelies!

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