The farmer's markets have really slowed to a crawl here in Michigan, as I suspect they have done all over the northern regions. There are still the staples though, like potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, leeks... I feel like we've almost collapsed into soup season. I find myself craving warm soup almost constantly and I've honestly never been much of a soup maker, so I figured for my latest Dark Days meal I would pull together some Potato Leek soup, flavored with Bacon. We are lucky to have local dairy and I try to keep fresh cream and butter in the fridge at all times, so this was a piece of cake.
Apart from using a recipe to tell me that I should cook my bacon and leeks in a skillet beforehand, I went at this completely recipe-free. I'm never shy about using fats in cooking, and Jeremy and I seem to maintain healthy weights simply by eating in moderation, so please forgive the amount of cream, butter and bacon fat that went into this. You'd certainly forgive it if you'd tasted it yourself!
Basically I boiled potatoes to the mashing point (skin-on) and then took 2/3rds of them and tossed them in a food processor. I then took my potato slop and added enough cream (and a little melted butter) to make them easy to stir and heated them on medium heat while I cooked my bacon and sliced leek in a cast iron skillet. When I finished the bacon and leeks, I tossed them into the pot, adding some of the bacon grease as well (uh, yum...) I then sliced the last of this season's carrots and tossed them in as well. I left this on the stove at low heat for a few hours while I went off to muck horse stalls and teach a lesson, and I assigned my husband to stirring every 20 minutes or so which he did diligently as soon as he learned there was bacon at stake. (Who wouldn't?)
When I returned home from work, I sliced the remaining cooked potatoes, tossed them in and heated the soup so that they would warm. I salted the soup just a bit (not locally sourced, but purchased from a small mom-and-pop spice merchant known for sourcing ethically grown spices) and added some of my own organic thyme and rosemary.
I can honestly say this is a soup hearty enough for giants. I had originally planned to bake up a quick lump of unleavened bread to accompany it (we are also lucky enough to have local flour here in Michigan) but honestly it didn't need it. We quickly scarfed down our single bowls of soup and lay around like gorged sheep for an hour afterwards. Super. Duper. Hearty. and sooo delicious.
This has really inspired me to get cracking on soups. I'd really love to make a sweet parsnip soup and - Woah. It just occurred to me that it's Saturday and the winter market is open! I'm going to go buy some parsnips! :)