Monday, October 4, 2010

Rustic Potato Soup With Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread Pudding

Good evening everyone! It's a new week - and the beautiful fall weather is sticking around. Cool mornings, 65-70 degree afternoons, it simply doesn't get any better than a midwestern fall. The leaves are just starting to change in are area, so the trees are starting to dot the horizon with ambers in golds, rather than emerald.

As I said yesterday, I have yet another messed up schedule this week - so we are adjusting on the fly to make our blogging schedule work. This week's ingredients were posted yesterday, (which, by the way, we now remember why grocery day isn't Sunday! Holy crowds! It was chaotic!!) that means tonight is the start of cooking on the blog. I took to the kitchen tonight, on my day off for this week, with two recipes in mind, a variation on a recipe I've done before and a neat little dish that I couldn't help but want to try. Without further ado, let's get cooking!

The Recipe: Rustic Potato Leek Soup
Original Recipe Found In: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2nd Edition: Every Recipe from the Hit TV Show With Product Ratings and a Look Behind the Scenes

What You'll Need:

6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4-5 Pounds Of Leeks, (Whites and light greens only- halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise into one inch rings)
1 Tablespoon Unbleached All Purpose Flour
5 1/4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 3/4 Pounds Red Potatoes (About 5 medium) Peeled and sliced into 3/4 inch chunks
1 Bay Leaf

The Recipe: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding
Original Recipe Found In: Taste Of Home Magazine - August & September 2010 Issue

What You'll Need:

8 Slices Cinnamon Bread, Sliced into 1 inch cubes
4 Eggs (Beaten)
2 Cups Milk (2% Listed, any variety OK)
1 Cup Canned Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Butter (Melted)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

If you are making both of these recipes for dinner, you'll want to start on the pumpkin cranberry bread pudding first as it is a slow cooker recipe and needs a solid 3 hours to cook.

To begin making the bread pudding, place your cubed bread in a 3-4 quart slow cooker that has been greased with cooking spray or oil.

In a large mixing bowl combine the milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Once combined, stir in the cranberries. Pour this mixture over the bread and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours, or until a fork can be poked in the center of the mixture and come out clean.

About 20 minutes before serving, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Allow the mixture to reduce until it becomes a light golden color,

this should take roughly 20 minutes. Slowly add the cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Finally, stir in the vanilla off of the heat, and serve over the bread pudding.

To begin making the potato soup, melt the butter in large dutch oven (medium heat) and add the leeks. (4-5 pounds of leek should measure close to 11 cups) and cook until they soften. Stir the leeks occasionally to keep them from sticking. The key here is not to overcook the leeks, so don't allow them to brown. After about 15 to 20 minutes, add the flour and cook - stirring constantly until everything is combined. This takes about 1 minute.

Increase the heat to high and gradually whisk in the broth. Add the potatoes and bay leaf and cover, brining the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer (still covered) until the potatoes are near tender (7 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and let stand until the potatoes are fully tender, 10 to 15 additional minutes.

This off heat cooking time allows the potatoes to fully soften, without over cooking the leeks or potatoes. If left on the heat for the 10 additional minutes, both would start to become mushy and soft. Since this is a 'rustic' soup - i.e. thick, full vegetables - we don't want soft and squishy ingredients.

Remove the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve!

The Results:


The potato soup was an interesting fusion of simple flavors, and complex, savory aftertastes. The basic structure of the soup was potatoes and leeks, so as you can imagine, that was the flavor that greeted our taste buds initially. After each bite, however, there was this unique, onion-potato-'fallish' medley of flavors that still lingered. All in all, a great dish.

I know I've tackled potato soup before, but two things led me to try this recipe. 1. I really love potato soup and 2. this recipe was entirely different than my original recipe. This recipe relied on only leeks and potatoes, and rather than being a creamy soup, was a thicker, heartier soup. Same dish, entirely different result. Still just as delicious.

The bread pudding was my first encounter with the classic desert. After tonight, I wonder where it has been all of these years. This dish was 'fall in a bite'. All of the classic flavors, cinnamon, pumpkin, cranberry - they all combined into a soft and delectable desert. The vanilla/caramel sauce that topped off the pudding was the slightly sweet touch that made the whole dish. Fantastic and delicious!

One final note for this evening, as of today - Maggie and I have been married for one month. It's hard to believe that it has already been one month since we took the big step together. I guess the one month anniversary is the 'potato soup and pumpkin bread pudding' anniversary! Happy one month anniversary Maggie - I love you with all of my heart.

Sappy anniversary message aside (hey, it's our blog!) that's all we have for you this evening. Maggie is in the kitchen tomorrow night with a very unique recipe, so be sure to stop by tomorrow evening to see what she's up to. Until then,


(FYI - there was a problem with the blogging tool this evening - captions wouldn't stick to the picture - so I went caption free, rather than picture free. Sorry for the lack of humorous 'one liners' with each picture.)

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