As I shared in my 2012 wrap-up post, soups are kind of my jam.
I love that they can be hot or cold, rich and creamy or light, or some sort of delightful mixture in between. Not to mention that when based with some rich raw cream or homemade bone broth they are nourishing to the deepest darkest little parts of your soul (and gut)!
I also love how soups are the perfect means to practice your “throw down” cooking skills. No, I’m not talking about “Throw Down with Bobby Flay”… though I’m pretty sure I’d pass out/wet myself if he ever showed up at my casa to have a soup throw down. Yikes. (Bobby, if you read this please don’t let that be a deterrent… I promise I’ll make for a good episode!) #ihaveacrushonbobbyflay
But really… “throw down” cooking is just a nicer way of doing what my mom and I have long called “dump cooking” (doesn’t sound so pleasant – but it’s actually pretty awesome) – which basically consists of taking your ingredients and throwing them down (or dumping them) into your pot/pan/oven/blender/etc. to create a delicious meal with no oh-crap-I’m-out-of-(ingredient) moments.
She get it from her momma.
I said it… all of my go-with-the-flow cooking instincts I inherited from my mom. Thanks, momma Lori! Maybe it’s just that we’re both laid back at heart (though I’m a total control-freak in some areas), but there is something incredibly freeing about being able to say “Don’t have that? No sweat!” in the kitchen. However, I’ll be the first to admit, it does take some practice to get there… (The first roast I made this way turned out to be as tough as a brick. Sorry, babe.)
Hence why I’m suggesting soups as your guinea pigs.
Known for having simple bases that can go with just about anything… soups are a perfect blank canvas to build your throw-down creation.
Found some potatoes on sale? Use ‘em. Interested in trying leeks for the first time? Throw those suckers in there. Lusting after that fancy cheese you’ve been eyeing at the market? Get to grating. Have a love affair with pork products? Bring on the bacon.
Find inspiration from common (they’re popular for a reason) recipes around you – and then find a way to use what you have to fancy things up a bit. Take potatoes and leeks – a pretty popular combination… then add bacon – it does make the world go ‘round, you know (bahaha) – and you’re going somewhere. Then find a few extra things to add flavor and go for it (with frequent taste tests to make sure you’re on the right track). I happened to have some green onions and fresh dill hanging out in my fridge… so I let my love for the color green go into delicious overdrive in my stock pot.
Onward to the seasonings.
Real sea salt & fresh cracked pepper are tried and trues, but don’t be afraid to throw in some smoky paprika, spicy chili powder, or even fresh grated nutmeg for an extra punch in your recipe. (I’m not saying try all of these together… just throwing out some ideas!)
Last but not least, perform a final taste test (you should have been doing this frequently along the way… with clean spoons mind you!) and determine if your creation needs any last minute additions. Make your modifications, serve and enjoy! And if for some reason your failed at your first throw-down mission and your meal isn’t that enjoyable. Please, please, please try again. Let my roast disaster hail witness… it can take some time… but it’s so worth it!
Now for your throw-down pleasure… enjoy playing with my own throw-down creation recipe below: Cheesy Potato, Bacon, & Leek Soup.
I went ahead and included approximate amounts so that any anxious readers that just aren’t ready to venture into throw-down territory yet don’t have to. But if you’re up for that challenge, please disregard any and all instructions and feel free to go with your own flow. Oh, and if you do decide to take the “throw-down cooking challenge”, please post your modified recipe (or a brand-new one) in the comments and feel free to grab the button at the bottom of the post for your blog or Facebook wall. You deserve it! Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!
***P.S. I will be posting my 3 favorite recipes from the comments in a subsequent post (as soon as we hit at least 5 recipe comments!)
- 1 pound russet potatoes
- 2 leeks, with greens removed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 4 cups chicken stock, homemade if possible
- 6-12 pieces uncured bacon
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 cup grated havarti cheese (or your personal favorite)
- 2 cups heavy cream, from 100% grass-fed cows if possible
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Fresh dill, minced, to taste
- ***Helpful kitchen tool: immersion blender
- Wash, peel, and chop your potatoes.
- Melt butter in the bottom of a large stock pot and add chopped potatoes and leeks. Saute' until slightly browned.
- Add chicken stock to pot and bring to a simmer until vegetables are softened.
- Coat bacon in maple syrup and cook in separate skillet. Allow bacon to caramelize and become crispy. Remove from pan and coarsely chop. Set aside.
- Use an immersion blender to blend soup until thick. Soup can still be slightly chunky or more smooth, whichever your prefer. (You can also transfer small amounts to and from a regular blender if you don't own an immersion blender.)
- Stir in cream and grated cheese.
- Season to taste.
- Serve soup in bowls topped with chopped maple-bacon and freshly cracked pepper.
- Bon appetit!