By Mark Bly
Wow, can you believe it? That was an awesome couple of months we had this summer. The warm days in The Last Frontier just seemed to fly by. Maybe it is my age, or maybe it is the fact that the summers in Alaska are so fleeting. There’s so much to do, with so little time.
By now your winter’s cache of salmon is in the freezer and your fruits and veggies are all canned. Whether you are headed out for the big hunt or rolling up the hose in anticipation of the coming freeze, it is time to shift gears and prepare for the longest season in Alaska. It is time to think about what will keep you happy as the sun races back to the southern hemisphere: I am talking about soup.
Soup is good food. I heard that once a while back and it has stuck with me. Nothing warms the heart or even cures a cold like soup does.
When you sup on your favorite broth, memories come running back from times gone by, simple times when all you worried about was your runner sled, or that pesky algebra test on Friday.
Soup is easy to prepare and often can be left to a crock-pot while you toil away the day at work.
This month I present to you an international selection of flavors: from Alaska, a very tasty bowl of smoked salmon chowder; from Mexico, a spicy cure-all for colds and hangovers; and from Italy, a very smooth potato soup with a rich and satisfying taste.
Go forth, embrace the coming season and take heart that the solstice is only a few months away. Food is meant to be shared and enjoyed. Take time to linger in the moment with a hearty mug of you favorite steamy and delicious soup.
Italian Leek and Potato Soup
2 to 3 pounds of white potatoes
3 large leeks
1 large onion sweet
5½ cups chicken stock
1 cup dry, white wine or sherry
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup whipping cream
¼ cup fresh, minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare your leeks. Slice off the root end. Slice off the top, about three inches above where it turns white. Now thinly slice. Start by slicing lengthwise and slice again. Slice across the short way and place in a bowl or colander. Rinse out the sand and set aside.
Dice your onion.
In a stockpot heat the olive oil, add the butter, leeks, and onion.
Sauté on a medium to low heat for 10 minutes. Add a pinch or two of salt. Add wine and reduce by one half.
Add the potatoes and 5 cups of the stock and simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Remove from heat and cool.
Pour your soup in to a blender and puree. If you have a hand mixer use it.
Return puree to pot. Add the rest of your stock and the cream. Stir.
Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, just to heat it through.
Place in to bowls, garnish with parsley and serve.
Spicy Crockpot Chicken Soup
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
2 large potatoes peeled, and sliced in to chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
4 tomatoes cut in quarters or eighths
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeños, remove seeds and dice
1 bag of frozen sweet corn
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 to 3 cups of leftover chicken, cut in to bite-sized pieces
Well, there is no real technique to this. Just put it all in the crock-pot and cook for 4 hours on high. Going to be gone for a while? Put it on medium for 6 hours. You get the picture.
Smoked Salmon Chowder
To an “outsider,” someone who resides outside the geographical area of Alaska, it may seem odd that one of the last things to get used up in the typical freezer is smoked salmon. Yes, there is much fanfare in the preparation and everyone has his or her own special blend. But after the holiday packages are sent away to eagerly awaiting in-laws that reside at points south, the poor, neglected smoked fillet, almost worth it’s weight in gold, hides behind that moose roast for the better part of four months. It is only when you make way for those cheap box store whole fryers that you discover your once precious stash of smoky goodness. My guess is that if you are north of 54 degrees, you have some smoked salmon in your freezer right now.
1 lb. smoked salmon
1 cup sliced bacon
2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups peeled, diced potatoes
1 stick of butter
1 cup flour
1 quart milk
1 quart half and half
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 quart chicken stock
1 ounce Marsala wine
Sauté bacon with butter till tender, then add onion, celery, garlic, and thyme.
Cook until onions are transparent or tender; add flour and cook for 5 minutes.
Add potatoes and stock and simmer for 10 minutes, then add half and half, and milk, stirring constantly so flour doesn’t lump up.
Simmer for 5 more minutes and add smoked salmon, Marsala wine, and season with Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper, and nutmeg.
Simmer until potatoes are tender and serve.
Footloose: How to keep striding and smiling with proper foot care Next Post: