Spring is waking up slowly here in the South. The nights are still cold but the afternoons reach into the early ’60’s on most days now. This afternoon warming makes for delicious stolen moments around the 4:00pm hour when Ms. Jeannie likes to take a cup of coffee outside with her and dream about all the potential and possibility for her garden plan this coming season.
In anticipation of all this gardening, Ms. Jeannie has been going through some of her favorite recipes so that she can figure out what she needs to grow so that she’ll have the freshest ingredients possible. One of her most favorite things to make is soup, so you’ll be sure there will be a variety of vegetables popping up!
In anticipation of such gardening delights and in anticipation of the upcoming Irish holiday, Ms. Jeannie cooked up one of her most favorite soups…potato!
This recipe came from her Irish Isles cookbook, which was a birthday gift this past summer from her dad.
Not only was it a gift of recipes – but it also came with a cd of classical Irish music, which made for a well-rounded cooking experience!
This was a very sentimental gift for Ms. Jeannie. Many years ago, she took a father daughter trip to Ireland and together, they explored the Southern countryside for 10 days. They stayed at 3 different hotels and visited about half a dozen cities and towns. There were sheep (so many!), crazy drivers, the perilous N7 , endless Frank Sinatra on the radio, fabulous museums, trips to the lace-makers, dinners in castles, driving tours of coastal fishing villages, a wet and wild tour of the Cliffs of Moher, lunches in pubs and a million miles of laughter in-between. It was a fantastic trip – one of Ms. Jeannie’s most favorite of all her travel adventures.
This cookbook is a compilation of recipes from the country hotels and manor houses all over Ireland. There are even some recipes from the places where Ms. Jeannie and her dad stayed!
The Leek and Potato Soup Recipe that Ms. Jeannie just made comes from Newport House in County Mayo.
Built in the 1700’s, the country estate is now part of the Relais & Chateaux distinguished hotel group. It is a small, luxury country inn known most for its location overlooking the Newport River and its salmon and sea trout fishing, both in the river and in nearby waterways. The current owners, who were originally guests at the hotel, so fell in love with their accommodations they bought the hotel in the mid-1980’s to ensure that they would always have a fishing retreat to “come home to.” Imagine that! Going on vacation and purchasing your vacation destination because you loved it that much! Ms. Jeannie can totally understand – Ireland is magical like that:)
Here are some interior photos. The owners have decorated the hotel in a variety of antiques including Regency style mirrors. It looks like it has a lot of character!
It’s no wonder that soup is on the menu at Newport House. After a cool day of fishing on the water, Ms. Jeannie bets that a cup of hot potato soup is just what you’d want to have! She was delighted to see that it is still on the menu in the hotel’s dining room!
Ms. Jeannie modified the recipe just a tad to incorporate items she already had on hand, which included a few bunches of fresh spinach tossed in at the very end.
Here’s the recipe, with Ms. Jeannie’s substitutions in parentheses…
Leek and Potato Soup – Serves 4
4 tablespoons butter (Ms. Jeannie used 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter)
1 1/4 lbs. leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
4 cups homemade chicken broth
8 to 10 oz. potatoes, peeled and chopped (Ms. Jeannie used 2 large russet baking potatoes)
1 spring fresh thyme, leaves pulled
1 fresh sage leaf, whole
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (Ms. Jeannie used 1/2 cup of 2% milk)
2 large handful bunches of fresh spinach
1. In a large saucepan melt butter (and oil, if using Ms. Jeannie’s version) over medium low heat. Add leeks, onion and celery and saute until onions are translucent but not browned (about 5-7 minutes).
2. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, thyme and sage. Simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
3. Transfer to a blender and puree. Return soup to original cooking pot, add cream (or milk) and salt and pepper. Fold in spinach and cook over low heat for 5 more minutes before serving.
Ms. Jeannie served her soup with a multi-grain baguette which was good for dipping! And, despite having only a 1/2 cup of cream (or milk in Ms. Jeannie’s case) this is an incredibly creamy soup once it is pureed. And it is quick to make with few ingredients! Thank you Ireland for making dinner simple and delicious!!!
Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to St. Patrick’s Day (Mr. Jeannie Ology’s heritage day!), Ms. Jeannie will be trying the recipes in the cookbook from the hotels and country houses she and her dad stayed in on their vacation. These are sneak peeks of three of them…
Until next time…Slainte, dear readers! Which means cheers in Irish:)