Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Spinach Leek Bisque (with Persimmon Cookies for Dessert)

I often feel that opening my CSA box is like being on an episode of “Chopped” – especially when I am not familiar some of the items.  For example, this week we received persimmons.  I don’t know that I’d ever even seen a persimmon, let alone eaten one.  So, this afternoon I found a recipe for persimmon cookies and made them.  I can’t say the cookies really tasted like persimmon (which I did taste raw before turning it into a pulp and adding a bunch of flour and sugar).  By the way, I kind of faked making the pulp – I couldn’t find any instructions on it, so I just boiled the persimmons for about a minute and then stuck them in my food processor and essentially turned them into baby food.

I figure that’s what persimmon pulp should look like, right?  In the end, it didn’t really matter because the cookies were delicious!  They tasted more like a Christmas-y bread than a cookie – so I added some white chocolate chips to the last batch, and that made them taste more like a cookie (at least in my mind).

We also received some leeks.  Fortunately, I already had a fantastic recipe for leeks in my arsenal!  If this recipe looks familiar to you, it’s because I wrote about it in my (now defunct) blog that I was sharing with my sister (though it’s funny, this blog is turning more into what that one was meant to be – i.e. about food).  This time I added potatoes – and they were definitely a brilliant addition.  Of course, as we were eating, my brother-in-law said “You know what would make this even better? Bacon!”  Which is probably true, but then it wouldn’t be vegetarian friendly.  However, since none of us are vegetarians in the house, maybe I will try it next time.

Creamy Spinach Bisque
as modified from "The Whole Foods Market Cookbook" by Steve Petusevsky.

4 tbs butter
1 red onion, chopped
2 large leeks (sliced and washed well)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
12 oz frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed of any excess water)
2 potatoes diced
3 cups milk
1 pint half and half (or heavy cream)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Saute the onions and leeks until soft (the recipe says it should take about 2 minutes, though it may take longer).


I think the combination of the purple skins from the red onions and the green leeks is really pretty!

Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes to form a roux (which I learned from Top Chef, ironically on the first night I ever cooked this recipe, that roux is when you brown the flour and butter and other ingredients. While the recipe says 2 minutes, I guarantee it will take longer than 2 minutes for any browning to occur, and tonight I was too impatient to wait for it to brown.  But I still think the finished product was delicious).

Add the stock. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thickened.

Add the spinach, potatoes, milk and cream - bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes. Add salt/pepper to taste and cook for 5 more minutes.

And now for the accounting:

Spinach Leek Bisque

2 Leeks
1 Red Onion
¼ cup flour
vegetable stock
1 bag frozen spinach
2 potatoes
3 cups milk
1 pint half & half

10 servings
$0.66 per serving

Holy moly!  That’s cheaper than a can of Campbell’s Chunky soup – and waaay healthier!  No preservatives or weird chemicals in this soup.  And definitely a lot less sodium!  Also, we ended up with so many leftovers – even after Aaron and Dominick had seconds.  The Whole Foods cook book estimates 8-10 servings in this recipe, and I think my yield was actually more like 10-12, but for the accounting I decided to stick with 10, since that was right in the middle.

I really hope you try this soup – it’s soo delicious!

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