A Nod to the Irish
by Victoria Challancin
March 9th marked the end of another 8-week course on Healthy International Cooking that I taught to Mexican cooks. Of course, I had to have at least a nod to Irish cooking on that last day--a nod to wonderful Irish cooking. I chose this soup from the new Bon Appétit magazine, and a great choice it was. Fresh tasting, yet creamy and comforting, this soup recipe is a definite keeper.
We also prepared this recipe for Irish Potato Cakes with Sour Cream Sauce, which was easy and good. For St. Patrick's Day, I like to offer Champ (I always add yogurt to my potato mixture)-- or Colcannon, but there are many other worthy British versions, that vary slightly from country to country--though the Irish might object-- (see Boxty, Rumbledethumps, Bubble and Squeak, or even Latkas), not to mention recipes from other countries as well. But truly there is something comforting about the potato that seems to transcend cuisines--comforting, basic, wholesome, economical, and versatile. Whatever recipes you choose to honor the Irish, one thing is certain: you probably will include potatoes on the menu. The following recipe is a good starting place.
Potato, Green Cabbage, and Leek Soup with Lemon Crème Fraîche
(Recipe from Bon Appétit, March 2011)
Makes 6 servings
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (we used Mexican crema ácida)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups diced green cabbage in 1/2-inch dice
3 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled yukon Gold potatoes (we used white potatoes), about 1 1/4 lbs
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
1 2 x 2-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1 Turkish bay leaf
6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth (we used homemade)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Whisk sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl to blend. Cover and chill.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sauté until cabbage is almost tender, but not brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup cabbage to a small bowl and reserve for garnish.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to pot with cabbage; add leeks and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until leeks soften slightly, about 3 minutes. STir in potatoes, Parmesan rind, if desired, and bay leaf. Add 6 cups broth; bring to boil. REduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind, if using, and bay leaf. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer until heated through, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top each serving with some of the reserved sautéed cabbage. Drizzle sour cream mixture over soup; sprinkle with chives and serve.