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Have Real Soups Gone on Holiday?

By Guru Bachan Kaur Khalsa

From my earliest childhood memories in Mexico City I remember that my grandmother and mother always served soup as part of our daily meal. Whether it was the rainy or dry season, winter or summer, soup was always part of our menu.

When I moved to Boston from Mexico after getting married, I faced an incredibly cold winter that lasted from November to April. It seemed endless. Especially since the apartment where we lived had a landlord who shut off the heat every night at midnight and turned it on again at 6am—to him it didn’t matter if there was a Nor’easter or not. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with New England, when it blows cold, it penetrates every fiber of your being regardless of clothing.

So in the transition from the relative luxury of balmy Mexican climes to the sharp contrast of New England weather, I really missed all the cozy, warm soups my family made. I have to confess, I became a Soupaholic.

Whenever I order soup at a restaurant, it’s usually a disaster. Everything seems to be canned, frozen, dried, prepackaged, meat-based or undercooked. And then there’s another common soup phenomenon: cream and cheese soups. These chalky concoctions coat your throat like liquid glue. Whatever happened to those wonderful soups that make you feel so re-hydrated, nourished, and alive? Have real soups gone on holiday?

Today I am sharing with you a wonderful, nourishing soup recipe. It is simple, luscious, creamy without dairy, and satisfying. It is amazing to find out that soups can be made without consommé — which is essentially meat fat. In general people think every soup should have meat broth to taste good and rich. All the soups I make are very satisfying and delicious without it. So try this soup for your next lunch or dinner and serve with special grilled or toasted bread with whipped Goat Cheese and Basil Spread. You will be very satisfied.Buen Apetito!

Two Potato Soup

2 tbsp butter or ghee (clarified butter)

2 ½ lbs small white potatoes (washed)

1 ¼ lbs sweet potatoes (washed)

2 ½ cups diced leeks

2 ½ cups diced celery

1 clove garlic (mashed)

1 bunch fresh chopped dill

Salt & pepper to taste

Place all potatoes (except 3 small white) in a pot and cover with water and cook until soft. Peel and dice the other 3 potatoes and add to the rest of the diced vegetables.

In a separate pot melt the butter or ghee and add the leeks. Sauté until a slightly brown. Then add the rest of the vegetables (including the diced potatoes) and sauté them until tender. Add water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil, lower heat and cook well.

After the whole potatoes are cooked, peel them and blend in a blender or food processor with the same water until smooth (make sure you do not blend the potatoes too long because they become very starchy ). Add the pureed potatoes to the vegetables that are boiling. Add the mashed garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and cook on low heat stirring regularly to be sure that it doesn’t stick. Cook until vegetables are nice and soft on the bottom. Before you serve add the chopped dill.

Goat Cheese & Basil Spread

¼ cup olive oil

12 oz goat cheese or any soft cheese to your liking

1 small clove garlic

½ cup fresh chopped basil

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Spread on a slice of grilled or toasted French or sour dough bread or crackers of your choice. Serve with a nice bowl of delicious Two Potato Soup.

Gurubachan Kaur is a former chef of the Golden Temple Conscious Cookery, one of the first vegetarian restaurants in the U.S. She was born in Mexico of Lebanese parents and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Previously published in Aquarian Times, Spring 2004