Monthly Archives: September 2013
Confession: my family doesn’t serve mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.
Are you judging me? It’s OK. I understand.
You see, I’m half Armenian. And Armenians are rice people (put some of my mom’s rice pilaf in from of me if you really want to see me inhale something). So I didn’t grow up eating a lot of potatoes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to make a decent mashed potato.
These Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Sautéed Leeks are a little bit different than your typical mashed potatoes. No butter or milk here! Just a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a quarter cup of sour cream is all you need to make these surprisingly rich tasting mashed potatoes. I think you could even declare these “healthy”! Or at least “healthier”. And the turnips give these mashed potatoes a little bit of an earthy undertone, which is a nice change of pace every once in a while.
One trick I’ve learned for making really good mashed potatoes is to put the drained potatoes (or potatoes and turnips, in this case) immediately back into your hot pot to help evaporate any excess liquid. Because nobody wants watery mashed potatoes. Not even us Armenians.
Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Sautéed Leeks
- 1.5 lbs new potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 lb turnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green portions thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Place the potatoes and turnips in a large pot and cover with enough cold water to submerge the vegetables by about 1-2 inches. Place the pot, uncovered, over high heat and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat down to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes and turnips are very soft, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and then immediately put the potatoes and turnips back into the still hot pot to evaporate any excess water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced leek and sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Add the sour cream, salt, pepper and sautéed leeks (plus any olive oil remaining in the skillet) to the potatoes and turnips. Mash with either a fork or a hand mixer. You can add a little more olive oil if it's too dry. Taste for salt and pepper. Re-warm if necessary before serving.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Tomato-basil soup always earns a top spot on my list of favorites. I never seem to tire of it’s bright hue and mild acidity. And making it fills me with as much joy and warmth as actually eating it does. Also, how many foods can you honestly claim are equally well suited as both a comfort food and a health food. Not many that I can think of.
Right now is the perfect time of year to make tomato-based soups. Because even though the air is starting to turn cool and crisp, there are still plenty of plump, sun-ripened tomatoes up for grabs at the markets. And while you can certainly make this recipe with canned tomatoes, fresh is almost always better in my opinion.
A grilled cheese sandwich may be the perfect pairing for tomato-basil soup. But today, I decided to skip the grilled cheese sandwiches in lieu of some cheesy homemade croutons. If you’re not yet making your own croutons at home for soups and salads, I urge you to start immediately. They are so much better than the store bought ones. And wicked crazy easy to make. You’ll never look back.
Tomato-Basil Soup with Parmesan Croutons
- For the Soup
- 2.5 lbs plum tomatoes (but other varieties will work too)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups onions, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- For the Croutons
- 4 cups bread, cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Peel and seed the tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a small “X” over the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel off and discard the skins. Cut the peeled tomatoes in half and remove the seeds (gently squeezing them over the trash can or garbage disposal works remarkably well). Chop the peeled and seeded tomatoes into large chunks and set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and carrots and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, salt, black pepper and tomato paste. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar and basil. Note: If you like a thinner soup, you can also add 1 cup of water at this point.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until the vegetables are very soft. Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Then puree the soup until very smooth using either an immersion blender, a regular blender or your food processor with the blade attachment. Be careful when transferring hot liquids and work in small batches. Return the soup to the stovetop to re-warm as necessary. Stir in the heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While the soup is cooking, make the croutons. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients until the bread cubes are well coated. Transfer them to a large rimmed baking sheet, spreading them out into a single layer. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, stir the croutons and then return the baking sheet to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, or until the croutons are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the croutons cool on their baking sheet. Once cooled, the croutons can be transferred to an airtight container.
- To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowls and top with a few croutons and an extra drizzle of heavy cream, if desired.
1. You can substitute two 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes (with their juices) for the fresh tomatoes.