(picture by Jennifer of The Adventuresome Kitchen)

Last year, Washington Post health columnist Jennifer Huget started a tradition by asking people she’d interviewed for the Eat, Drink &  Be Healthy column or the Checkup blog to share their resolutions for eating more healthfully in the new year. This year, Oldways and I were a part of the tradition.  As published yesterday, my resolution is “to try at least one new recipe each week. And since this is the ‘Year of the Mediterranean,’ I’m focusing on recipes from different Mediterranean countries that feature vegetables of the season. In other words, I’ll be taking a delicious trip around the Mediterranean, all without security lines and the TSA!” With a new place to live one block from Oldways (instead of an hour+ commute), I decided this quest is a do-able one (only one new recipe a week, not a new one every day a la Julie & Julia!).  Also, I know I can stand a little improvement as we at Oldways work to change the way people eat! What kind of recipes am I looking for?  Traditional.  Mediterranean.  Vegetables.  Easy.  Comfort. Affordable. Comfort in Boston in the winter screams soup to me.  It’s a fantastic way to introduce more (and sometimes unfamiliar) vegetables into your eating life.  I started last night with a smooth and creamy carrot and leek soup (click here for the recipe) from Martha Rose Shulman’s The Best Vegetarian Recipes.  Martha has more than a dozen cookbooks, writes every week for the New York Times (often one of the most emailed articles of the week), and is a whiz at vegetables and whole grains. I’m sure Martha is much more of a whiz than I am at soups, but her directions and recipe are simple and easy-to-follow.  What wasn’t so simple was using the immersion blender she recommended (although not essential, a blender or pulsed food processor will do) — the kitchen and I both wore a bit of the soup before I finished. Regardless, it was delicious.  I’m ready to tackle another new recipe next week.   Looking for new ideas — leave your Mediterranean favorites as a comment!  — Sara Carrot and Leek Soup This sweet, comforting soup is based on a French classic.  I love its texture—it should be coarsely pureed, preferably with an immersion blender or through a food mill.  Use the leek greens for the stock; even if you don’t have time to make stock, you can simmer them in the water while you prepare the other vegetables. *makes 4 Servings*
  • 1 pound leeks
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 ¼  pounds carrots, finely chopped (you may use a food processor, using the pulse action)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar (optional); omit if carrots are very sweet
  • 1 medium russet potato (about ½ pound), peeled and diced small
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, thyme, or dill
  1. Clean the leeks.  Chop the white and light green parts and set aside.  Simmer the leek greens in the water while you prepare the other ingredients for the soup, 20 to 30 minutes.  Strain and discard the greens.
  2. Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven.  Add the leeks.  Cook, stirring often, until they are tender and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the carrots and stir together for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the sugar, stock, and the potato.  Bring to a boil.  Add salt and reduce the heat.  Cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup coarsely using an immersion blender (my choice) or a food mill fitted with the medium blade.  Return to the pot and add the milk.  Taste.  Is there enough salt?  Add a little pepper.
  4. Heat through just to a simmer.  Serve, topping each bowl with a sprinkling of chives.
Advance preparation: This is best served the day it’s made, but it will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.

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