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Nothing Better Than Cooking a Meal Ahead of Time

24 Jan

Today I was really glad we had cooked tonight’s meal ahead of time. It was a crazy day and I haven’t had a lot of free time to do things like blog or cook. Luckily, we had made tonight’s dinner for the meal plan on Sunday night and refrigerated it, so it was just a matter of re-heating and serving. Tonight is Potato Soup with a side salad and some crusty bread. Nothing fancy tonight, and it is our meat-less night of the week and this one really hits the spot. Potato soup is one of my favorites and it is so easy to make. The prep time is simple and then it just cooks on the stove. It also freezes really well if you want to save some for another day or use for lunches (This is a good kid’s school lunch if you can send them with a thermos. This soup is one of Sean’s favorites).

Potato-Leek Soup

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed thoroughly

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken broth (I use homemade, use that or store-bought. If you use store-bought, try to go low-sodium)

2-3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 3/4 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (we used large russets this time and only used 3 or 4. Red potatoes also work well with this dish)

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in the leeks and the garlic. Cover and cook until the leeks are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the broth, carrots, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup (or use an immersion blender or pour some of the soup into a food processor and puree, then return it to the pot with the rest of the soup). Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Another quick entrée in the books. I like one pot meals from the clean up standpoint as well. A couple of notes about this soup. We usually let it cook longer, maybe an extra 15 minutes or so, because we like thicker soups. If you like more liquid, don’t thicken the potatoes or add a little milk or cream instead of thickening the potatoes. Also, if you have never prepared leeks before, leeks tend to be very dirty and gritty and need lots of rinsing. My best bet for preparing them: trim and discard the root and the green leaves. Slice the trimmed leek in half lengthwise, then cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Then rinse the cut leeks thoroughly in a bowl of water to remove dirt and sand. Make sure you really sweat the leeks down before you add the liquid in this recipe. We use 2 large leeks, and they sweat down to next to nothing by the time they are done, so you could use even more if you want to, or even add an onion in for some extra flavor.

Wow, it seems like I am cheating since that is basically the whole meal tonight. The salad we are making is just mixed greens that I purchased in the bag and rinsed, added some English cucumber and shaved carrots and some black olives. You could use any dressing you like, or not at all. last week, I posted a recipe for Balsamic Vinaigrette. That’s a family favorite. We’re not using this vinaigrette today, but this Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette is tasty and simple to make.

Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

 3/4 cup olive oil

 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 shallot, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring it to room temperature and shake vigorously to re-combine before using.

Throw in a loaf of your favorite crusty bread (I love Ciabatta myself) and you are all set with a very easy meal. It’s hearty, it’s filling, it’s good for you and it’s great for a winter’s night, even if it is pretty warm for January here right now.

With my schedule being kind of hectic the last few days, I haven’t had a chance to get to the fish market yet, so we are moving the fish meal to Thursday and making one of my favorite meals tomorrow – Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Brussel Sprouts. I’ll go to the fish market Thursday and get something fresh to make. Any suggestions? I am pretty open-minded when it comes to fish and will try just about anything. I am trying not to break the bank though on the cost, so try to keep that in mind if you have any suggestions as far as the fish goes.

Other than that, I hope everyone has a great night and thanks for reading the blog. I am grateful for whatever visits I get here, and to have had over 200 in a short time to me is pretty good, so I thank you for following. If your planning on watching President Obama tonight, make yourself a nice cocktail and relax so you don’t get too agitated by what you may hear, one way or the other. Enjoy your evening and happy cooking!

 

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1 Comment

Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Dinner, Salad, Soups & Stews, Vegetables

 

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