Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another city, not my own

At home, the long frequented restaurant of horse country in metro New York, 121, serves a Potato and Leek Soup with a Mini Grilled Cheese in the center and it is, besides cold, clear air and dancing fires in stone hearths, what I have been thinking of lately when imaging home, as I find myself doing too often these days.

Just at the moment I am, as Dominick Dunne so aptly put it for all of us occasionally or permanently displaced wanders, in another city, not my own. Or country. When you're gone, you're just gone, you know? Could be half a mile or half a world off, you're just not there; where you belong. No matter how far away a child of that horse country gets, autumn will always bring a picture of wild colors, the damnedest desire to be back on horseback and riding on the hunt paths at home, and the taste of several comfort foods. I never could shake any of what that place put in me. I admit to having a heart unnerved by the thought of even trying to break ties.

I can never shake off Wednesday and Friday nights either, when I know they have all assumed their places in the hearth room at 121: All paddock boots, puffy jackets or old oil coats, and glasses of wine in their rein-warn hands. That is what home is after all: Something comfortingly familiar, not perfect. My perfectly imperfect is all and everything it is.

Way back home tonight, the people I miss will eat this soup. They will do so with my love and best wishes in every drop. You know what they say: Home is...

Cream of Potato and Leek Soup
Serves 6

You can strain the soilds after processing if you wish. I prefer the texture and whatever nutrients ossible remain, consequently, I do not.

2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 leeks, trimmed, sliced thin, and soak-cleaned
1 medium onion
2 large baking potatoes, diced
6 cups chicken stock (I make and freeze the Zuni recipe, totally worth the effort...)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chives, for garnish
Mini Cherve Grilled Cheese on Baguette for an accompaniment

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat place the butter and olive oil, heat until the butter is melted. Add the leeks and onion and cook until tender and translucent, do not allow them to color. Add the potatoes and stock and and season with salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat medium low and simmer until the potatoes are cook through and tender about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.

In a food processor, puree the soup until it is as close to completely smooth as it will come. Now you will choose whether you wish to strain the soup to remove the remaining solids or, do as I do, and leave them (the Hostess cannot tolerate waste but can tolerate texture. Either way, transfer the soup back to the pot. Turn to medium heat and bring to a boil again.

Ladle a small bit of soup into a bowl, add the cream and whisk to combine. Add the mixture to the soup pot and whisk until smooth. Season to taste again with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with snipped chives.

If you chose to serve this as a chilled soup, you can refrigerate this soup covered for several hours, re-taste for seasoning as cold soups generally require a good deal more seasoning and serve.

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