Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (And How To Make Vegetable Stock)

A thick vegan or vegetarian or omnivorous soup of potatoes, beets and leeks

Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (And How To Make Vegetable Stock) | Farm Fresh Feasts

My spouse is a vegetarian, at least while he's away on his all-expense paid work trip to an exotic foreign locale.  If you think it's ironic, considering I just shared a post on 106 Recipe Ideas Using Ground Beef because I have 110 pounds of ground beef in the freezer, you're in good company.

Since the rest of the household is omnivorous, I've been experimenting with ways to create meals we can all enjoy.
I've heard homeschoolers will use the Bus Stop Method of teaching--introducing a subject, then dropping off students to work at different levels while continuing to teach that subject.  I consider recipes like this, and my Vegan/Vegetarian/Omnivorous Valentine's Pizza and my Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato Chili, to be similar to the Bus Stop Teaching.  Call it Bus Stop Cooking (though bear in mind I am cooking in my kitchen, not at a bus stop, and I have access to running water, an oven, stove, and all that).
 The base of this recipe is a vegetable stock, slowly cooked in the slow cooker (is that redundant?) all day (and in fact I kicked this batch over to Keep Warm and let it go overnight since I didn't feel like dealing with it in the evening).  I like mushrooms in my vegetable stock, so when I realize that I'm not going to finish a package I'll toss them in with the rest of the cast of vegetables into a Vegetarian Soup Pack in the freezer.

The inspiration for this soup came from Alanna's Greens 'n All Beet Soup.  I love the flavor of that soup, but my kids aren't crazy about chunks of vegetables, and lately with my obsession with sautéed beet greens there just wasn't any left for soup.  So I figured I'd adapt Alanna's recipe with the veggies I had.  Once I simmered and pureed the soup, I had a rick, thick, vegan bowl of yumminess (shown above).  That's Bus Stop #1.  Adding a dollop (love that word) of sour cream makes a nice vegetarian bowl (shown below left).  Bus Stop #2.  Adding a pound of browned and drained ground beef to the pot means that we've arrived at the final destination--a soup for omnivores [aka another way to get my kids to eat beets.  With beef.]

Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (And How To Make Vegetable Stock) | Farm Fresh Feasts

I don't know if my spouse will continue as a vegetarian when he returns.  He says he'll eat "happy meat", so I've sourced a "locally-raised on locally-grown and -ground GMO free feed" turkey for Thanksgiving.  I do know that I will continue this Bus Stop Cooking method, because it tastes good!

Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (And How To Make Vegetable Stock) | Farm Fresh Feasts
Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (And How To Make Vegetable Stock) | Farm Fresh Feasts

Easy Slow Cooker Vegetable Stock (fat free, gluten free, vegan, and can be low sodium)

Over a period of weeks, gather cast of bits of vegetables (the remainder of a bunch of herbs you got for a recipe and didn't use up--or your daughter was a little overzealous harvesting, onion peels, carrot tops/tips/peels--unless you've got a composting pig, in that case let the pig get first crack, celery leaves, mushrooms, squash ends . . . whatever you've got) in a bag in the freezer.  When you're ready to make stock, dump them into a slow cooker, add a tablespoon of peppercorns, a bay leaf, some salt (1-3 teaspoons), and fill with water.  Cover, plug in and turn on the slow cooker, and leave it on low for the day (8 to 12 hrs).  Cool, strain (the veggies are perfectly fine for your compost bin, as there's no pesky bones to worry about), and use immediately, or chill for a week, or freeze for a couple of months.

Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (And How To Make Vegetable Stock) | Farm Fresh Feasts

NOTE:  I created this recipe to be gluten free through my choice of ingredients. Check labels to confirm that your products are also gluten free. Good sources for determining that your products are gluten free can be found here:

Potato, Beet, and Leek Soup (serves 6-8)

1 Tablespoon cooking oil of your choice
2 to 3 cups loosely packed, coarsely chopped leeks
3 to 4 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (I had Napa)
1 1/2 cup shredded carrots (or 1 cup chopped)
1 pound potato, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 pound peeled, chopped beets (about 3 cups)
6 cups vegetable stock
fresh dill (I used 3 large sprigs and pulled them out before pureeing)
bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon salt (I had kosher, and I am constantly worried about oversalting so use your judgement)
10 grinds pepper
1/3 cup sugar or sweetener of your choice
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
sour cream, optional, a dollop per serving
1 pound ground beef, optional, seasoned with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, browned, and drained

Preheat a large pot (I like my pretty purple pot--Amazon affiliate link) over medium heat with a turn of cooking oil.  Sauté the leeks until they are barely beginning to brown, and add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes as they are prepped and ready.  Stir to coat each addition with some of the oil.  You're not going to get each piece of vegetable fully caramelized because the pan is too crowded, but if a lot of pieces have a bit of color that's good.  Then add in the chopped beets.  All bets are off once the beets join the party, as they will dye the whole mess pink.
Add the stock, dill, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot.  Bring to a fast simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove dill sprigs and bay leaf.  Use an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender (careful!) and puree until smooth.  Add in the sugar and vinegar, and stir to combine. Taste and see if you'd like a bit more salt or pepper. Serve with a sprig of dill for the vegans, with a dollop of sour cream for the vegetarians, or with some ground beef for my kids.

This post is shared on the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up and What's Cookin' Wednesday, the From The Farm Blog Hop, the Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Tasty Tuesdays, Food On Friday

8 comments:

  1. For some reason, I'm never entirely pleased with my homemade vegetable stock. And I'm even less pleased with most of the commercial vegetable stocks out there. I always put mushrooms in my stock, because I love the richness of flavor. Maybe I just need more salt?

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    1. Lydia,
      I never think I put enough salt into soup, because I'm always afraid to over salt. I'm sure it's an official diagnosis, Chronic Under Salting.
      I did like one vegetable soup base, Penzey's, which had a lot of carrot, celery, and onion flavor (and yes, some salt).
      Thanks!

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  2. I've got a Ziploc bag in the freezer right now collecting all my herb and veggie bits. I'm eager to make my own stock. It's safe to say your bus stop method is working; for teaching and cooking.
    One question: how many veggie bits does one need to acquire to be ready to make stock?
    Oh and I've got some fancy salts: I think I may use them here. I think I may also make my own salt too with all my rosemary. I won't actually make salt but I will mix it with rosemary and declare it amazing. Or at least that's the plan.

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    Replies
    1. Meghan,
      I usually use the 1 gallon sized bags, and when they are about full I'll make soup. Bear in mind, though that the neverending celery (sure! regrow celery! it's easy!) leaves make up the bulk of the bags these days.
      Now that I have mastered granola, no, not mastered yet, but now that I can make my own granola, you may teach me herbed salts.

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  3. I share the same undersalting issue! I think leeks are one of the best things about fall! And I was thankful for this recipe amidst all of that beef!

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    Replies
    1. Tammy,
      I've been getting fat and sassy leeks from the farm share this fall and just loving it.
      Thanks!

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  4. This looks so good! Let's see... I have beets, potatoes and beef... so all I need are leeks! :) And I've never tried making my own veggie stock... I should start saving scraps for that as well!

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    Replies
    1. Beth,
      I'm starting to think I need a 3rd (separate) freezer for soup packs. It's getting a little out of control around here. I suppose I could just make a bunch of soup and eat that instead . . .
      Thanks!

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