3 spice leek and potato soup

3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table

Hello 2016! I hope you guys had a fun and relaxing holiday. The East coast was warmer than the West Coast and there were days that I spent outside in shorts.  I even heard that it might have snowed in San Francisco for a few minutes (not sure about this) but the way things have been I wouldn't be surprised. We visited Monticello and took a tour of Thomas Jefferson's plantation, it's worth the trip if you haven't been there. 

The oddest thing happened after we got home. There are potatoes growing in my backyard! I never planted them and I can only assume that the previous owners had something to do with that. Unfortunately, they were too small for me to use so I'll have to wait a little longer before I'll get to cook them. Potatoes are comfort food at its best and if paired well, in soups they are delicious! Leeks and potatoes are perhaps one of the best combinations that exist in savory heaven. This leek and potato soup, takes full advantage of these amazing ingredients along with a couple of other special spices. A dash of turmeric and coriander in this potato and leek soup along with a sautéed topping of thinly sliced leeks and nigella seeds. To make the soup as smooth as possible, I used my "KitchenAid Torrent blender. The high horsepower of this blender helps to grind all the ingredients in the soup to a smooth and creamy consistency. Plus, there's a soup setting which makes life much easier and takes a lot of the guesswork out.

The three spices add three different levels of flavor to the leek and potatoes in the soup. Coriander imparts a smoky flavor while turmeric brightens the taste and color of the soup. The leeks get a delicious nutty flavor from the tiny black nigella seeds as they are sautéed in the ghee/oil. This is my Indian-inspired take on this classic dish!!

3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen notes that you might find useful when preparing this soup;

  • Note that I have not given a specific amount of salt and pepper in this recipe. If you use a low sodium/salt stock then you will need to season the soup a little more. Start with less and then adjust the amount as needed.
  • Use floury potatoes over waxy potatoes when making this soup. Diced potatoes cook faster than larger pieces which will also cut down your cooking time. 
  • When you blend the soup, you need a blender that's powerful and KitchenAid's magnetic Torrent blender is perfect! You will get a creamy soup that has a silky texture.
3 spice leek and potato soup | A Brown Table

3 spice leek and potato soup

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

4 tablespoons ghee/extra virgin olive oil

4 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 2 whole leeks)

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, whole

1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

300 gm potatoes, peeled and diced into 0.5" cubes

1 quart vegetable stock

salt and pepper to season (see notes above)

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon nigella seeds, whole

1. Heat two tablespoons of the ghee/oil in a medium-sized stockpot on medium-heat. When the ghee/oil is hot, add 2 cups of the sliced leeks and cook them until they just start to get lightly browned. This should take about 4 minutes. Add the turmeric, coriander and chili pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the potatoes and cook for 60 seconds. Stir in the stock and then increase the heat to high. Bring the contents of the stockpot to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to a low. Cook until the potatoes are tender and soft about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from stove.

2. Carefully, transfer the contents of the stockpot to the blender and pulse on the soup setting until the program is complete. The soup will be smooth in texture once the cycle is completed. Alternatively, pulse until completely smooth. Transfer the soup back to the stockpot and allow to simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

3. To prepare the topping for the soup, heat heat the remaining two tablespoons of ghee/olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the leeks with the salt for about 5 to 6 minutes until they turn golden brown. Add the nigella seeds and cook for 1 minute. Top each serving of hot soup with a generous amount of the sautéed leeks and nigella and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Disclaimer: A big thank you to KitchenAid for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own. 

green goddess rasam

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

I'm back after a wonderful and much needed vacation in India. Though I wish it were longer, two weeks was definitely too short of a time to spend with my family and visit Bombay and Goa. Still we managed to get quite a bit of sight seeing done between two weddings and celebrations.  It should also go without saying that this vacation involved a lot of eating. There were Christmas sweets and treats my mom had prepared plus all the restaurants we tried out, then the food at all the different celebrations, the list goes on. Though, I've shared some of my photographs on Instagram, I'll be writing more about my trip, tips and experiences on both these lovely cities in the upcoming weeks.

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

There were three things my body craved for as soon as we got back from India, the first being sleep (the jet lag is intense), the second warm weather (winter in Bombay and Goa is around 80+ degree F) and the third, lighter meals. One of my favorite South Indian soups is rasam (pronounced rus-um), which can best be described as a spiced, fiery peppery broth that is rather light yet wholesome. Rasam is considered by some to having a healing touch when it comes to colds and it is one of my favorite soups to enjoy during the cold days of winter. It is also the perfect soup to eat after a 22 hour-long flight.

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Instead of going with the traditional tomato based recipe that makes a reddish-brown colored rasam, I've changed things up here a bit and taken several liberties along with a little inspiration from a rasam dish we tried at Jigg Kalra's modern Indian restaurant Masala Library in Bombay and from Bon Appétit's Green Goddess dressing . The end result is a light lentil broth that's full of spicy heat and fresh herb flavors, making it one refreshing soup!
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips while preparing this soup;

  • I used split red lentils because they are quick and easy to cook but you can use the traditional split yellow pigeon peas (toor dal) in the same amount.
  • 20 peppercorns might seem a lot but it gives this soup its characteristic fiery taste. I've added a Serrano pepper here for heat but if you prefer a hotter green chili, add it. If you like it less hot, remove the seeds and only use the pepper. 
  • *Mustard greens can be replaced with spinach and the cilantro with parsley. 
  • If you can't find tamarind paste, you can use 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
  • This soup will get darker as it ages or if it is heated. The chlorophyll pigment in the greens gets dark when exposed to air or heat which is why I add the green paste towards the end after the broth base has cooled down a little. I also serve this soup immediately as soon as it is prepared to keep it as brightly green as possible. 
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

green goddess rasam

serves: 6-8

ingredients

20 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

3/4 cup split red lentils (masoor dal), cleaned and washed

8 cups water, at room temperature

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon tamarind paste (you might need to add a little more)

2 cups packed mustard green leaves (mid rib removed and discarded), fresh* 

1 bunch cilantro leaves, fresh*

1/4 cup packed tarragon leaves, fresh

6 scallions, fresh (both white and green parts to be used, trim and discard the root end)

1 large (about 2 tablespoons chopped) serrano chili pepper, chopped (if you prefer less hot, remove the seeds) 

2 cloves (about 3 tablespoons) garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt

4 tablespoons neutral tasting vegetable oil (you can use olive oil)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

4 dried Kashmiri chilis (about 1 inch in length)

6 curry leaves (fresh or dried)

1. Grind the peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds to form a coarse powder using mortar and pestle or a spice/coffee bean grinder. 

2. Add the ground spices along with the turmeric, lentils and water to a large thick-bottomed stock pot. Heat on a high flame and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the flame to a medium-high and cook for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft and translucent. Take about 1/2 cup of the liquid and mix it with the tomato paste and tamarind to form a slurry. Transfer this slurry back into the stockpot and stir to combine. Cook for one minute, remove from stove and keep the broth aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding the green paste (prepared in step 3).

3. Place all the ingredients from the mustard greens to the garlic cloves, along with 1/2 cup of the broth (avoid adding the lentils from the broth) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you get a smooth paste. Stir this paste into the warm lentil broth. Add the salt and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary (you might need to add a little more salt or tamarind).

4. Heat the oil in small saucepan or skillet on medium-high. As soon as the oil is hot (after about 45-60 seconds) add the mustard seeds and heat until they begin to sputter. Once the seeds start to sputter, add the chilis and the curry leaves and heat for another 10-12 seconds, they will puff up and darken a little. Immediately remove and pour this hot mixture over the soup. Serve the soup immediately in bowls. You can also serve this with plain rice on the side.