Creamy Two-Potato and Dill Soup

dill 1 2.2.14My mother doesn’t like dill. I do. Neither of these preferences is particularly important. They’re just preferences.

And yet, it’s the reason why I automatically reached for the package of dill when I was grocery shopping a few days after I’d visited my mom.

I don’t remember, were we watching a cooking show together? Possibly that, and the TV cook was likely using dill, which would have prompted the “I don’t like/I do like” conversation.

That little exchange lifted dill up out of the recesses of my mind, so that, when I saw the package of it in the store, it was inevitable I should reach for it and bring it home, where I promptly added it to a salad.

Then, the other day, when I took notice of not only potatoes in the fridge, but also sweet potatoes, I thought what a nice soup that would be, and what a great place to stir in fresh dill. So I made potato soup: russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, garlic, vegetable broth…and dill.

While I peeled and diced the potatoes (four medium russets, about 1 1/2 pounds; two medium-largish sweet potatoes, about 1 pound), one thinly sliced celery stalk simmered in a lightly coated pan over medium-low heat. I was keeping the heat lower on the celery, and also added some salt, so the celery wouldn’t cook too fast and brown too much while I diced the potatoes.

Then I tossed in the diced potatoes, along with four minced garlic cloves.

Stirred it all up. Added a little water to keep things from sticking, and put the lid on to keep moisture in and cook through.

Fifteen? Twenty minutes? Not sure…but enough time to clean up a little, empty the dishwasher, put a few other things away.

Took the lid off the pot at one point to check doneness, and was rewarded with the wonderful aroma of garlic. Added a little more water. Lid back on.

When all the potatoes were fork-tender (regular potatoes waiting patiently, because sweet potatoes were firmer and took longer), I added vegetable broth.

I had a one-quart carton, and added half, then used a stick blender to purée. The broth was a rich yellowy-orange, and lent a warm tone to the white potatoes (the sweet potatoes had turned out to be white when I peeled them). I added a little more broth at a time, wasn’t sure how much I’d need. Turned out the whole carton of it was just right.

dill 2 2.2.14Tweaked seasoning with salt and pepper.

Turned off the heat, and stirred in a couple of generous tablespoons of chopped fresh dill.

Ultimately, this is brothy mashed potatoes! Dressed up a little with the addition of sweet potato, bringing, well…a little sweetness.

And then light, grassy (in a good way!) dill freshness.

Creamy, savory-sweet, garlic-infused potato soup with dill…comfort-food soup.


Kohlrabi as Comfort Food

kohlrabi 1 11.16.13It’s not that I needed comforting when I pulled out kohlrabi again this week, but I liked the texture of it when I sautéed it as slices last week, layering the slices with sautéed broccoli rabe and a thin covering of swiss cheese in a panini.

As I bit into the sandwich, the kohlrabi slices reminded me of thinly sliced potatoes when they’re cooked similarly.

And it’s probably that thought of potatoes that moodled around in my subconscious for a few days that made me think to mash the kohlrabi this week.

So I started off as I would with potatoes. I peeled the kohlrabi bulb (stems and leaves already removed when I got it), then diced, put into a pot, covered with water and a lid, brought it up to a boil, then, lid off, simmered til tender, about 25 minutes or so.

While that was cooking, I pulled out a head of escarole.

Yes, greens again. I am inevitably drawn to greens over and over again. They are often part of comfort-food combinations for me: greens and beans, or greens cooked down and added to something mashed, like, say, potatoes or…kohlrabi.

Raw, escarole is bitter, and can add contrast to a salad of mixed greens. When cooked, it mellows.

And mellow sounded good, as did adding a leek and garlic to mellow along with.

So I warmed a pan over low heat and coated with extra virgin olive oil, adding five minced garlic cloves, followed by chopped  leek (cut in half lengthwise, rinsing dirt from between the leaves, then each half cut in half lengthwise again, and chopping). Kept it over low heat, added a little salt, doing both to keep the garlic and leek from cooking/browning too quickly, while I chopped and added the escarole (cutting the leaves in half, and then chopping).

When everything was in and cooked down some, I seasoned with salt and pepper, I put the lid on, turned the heat up to medium, and allowed it to continue cooking, adding a little water after about 10 minutes when the bottom of the pan seemed dry. Lid back on til greens were tender. All together, between 20 and 30 minutes.

In the meantime, the kohlrabi was ready. Drained that, and put it back in the pot to mash with a potato masher. And, really, it was more smashed than mashed, being fibrous rather than flaky, but tender all the same.

Into a bowl, salt and pepper, and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil stirred in.

kohlrabi 2 11.16.13So good just like that. A sweet, light broccoli, cabbagey taste, even a little like corn.

By then, the escarole mix was ready. I used about half (the other half will likely find its way into a soup), stirred that into the smashed kohlrabi.

Light, sweet taste of kohlrabi and deeper, sautéed flavors of the escarole, leeks and garlic.

I may not have needed comforting, but it felt good just the same.