Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again.....

Fall has arrived, and even though we're sweating it out in the high 80's here in NY, I couldn't resist breaking out the soup pot.

I'd always been intimated by soups, ordering them in restaurants and wondering what mysteries of the universe could transform such simple ingredients into something so incredibly delicious. All that changed when my brother in law gifted me with an immersion blender and I discovered that rapidly ripening vegetables in your pantry or fridge could be rescued from the trash bin with a little stock and some seasoning. Not only that, but they could be transformed into something unforgettable - without a recipe!

This is one such soup....use the recipe below as a guide, but feel free to substitute ingredients you love. Soups are very forgiving.

Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup

2 whole garlic bulbs
6 slices bacon, chopped into pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped
olive oil and butter
5 large, white potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 32 oz. container of chicken stock ( I prefer Kitchen Basics in the yellow carton)
salt & pepper
heavy cream (optional)

First roast the garlic. Preheat oven to 400. Slice tops off garlic bulbs to expose the raw garlic inside. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place upright on a piece of tin foil and then fold edges of foil up & over the top to create a little packet. Roast for about 40 minutes or until you start to smell the garlic.....mmmmm. Remove from oven, open packet and let cool.

In the meantime, fry bacon in soup pot until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels (reserve the bacon to garnish the soup later).

To bacon drippings in pot, add a tablespoon each of olive oil & butter, all of the onion and some salt. Cook until lightly browned and then add chicken stock, potatoes, a little more salt and pepper and a lid. Bring to a slight boil and then lower to simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 20 minutes or so).

At this point you can add the roasted garlic by squeezing the now softened and browned cloves from the bulb right into the pot. Then take your trusty immersion blender and puree the soup to the consistency you like. I like some chunks of potato to remain for texture, but that's just me. Check for salt & pepper and stir in a splash of cream for added richness.

Serve with crumbled bacon on top.

Green onions (scallions), chives, shredded cheese or creme fraiche (or sour cream) also make delicious garnishes for this soup.

Notes:

Roasting garlic mellows out its flavor and sweetens it a bit. It can be used in countless other ways, like spreading on Italian bread for a quick app, added to salad dressings or whisked into sauces for flavor and thickening.

If you don't own an immersion blender, you can puree the soup in batches in a standard blender or food processor.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Few Local Gems

Its been a little hectic in the bakery these past few weeks, so this entry is late. The pics are so gorgeous, I had to post it anyway :)

After pumping out hundreds of bags of cookies last week, I was thrilled to be able to enjoy the picture perfect weather this Labor Day week-end with my family. Instead of joining the throngs of travelers heading to the beach, we opted to stay home and take advantage of what Warwick has to offer. Although we've been living here for seven years, we never fail to discover a delightful, local gem if we search hard enough.

Our daughter has been telling us lately that she wants to be a farmer when she grows up, so we've been trying to expose her to as much of the local farm country as we can. We hit three farms in one day over the Labor Day weekend for a scrumptious country breakfast overlooking the sunflower fields at Rogowski Farm, a milking demo and tour of Bellvale Farms (home of Bellvale Farms Creamery), and a tasty dinner and some local brews with live music at Pennings Farm Market.

It was an awesome way to spend a rare day off "in my own backyard."