Thursday, October 3, 2013

Leek, Potato and Spinach Stew

Remember when I said it was game on with heartier pasta? That philosophy also applies to soups and stews now that the cooler temperatures have arrived. Chili was my first foray into that territory this fall, but there's so much more to explore.

Leek and potato soup is one of my absolute favorite soups, and while it takes a lot to draw me from away from the classic recipe, this soup had too much extra going for it not to give it a shot.  While classic leek and potato soup is a wonderful side to a sandwich and salad, this stew turns that irresistible flavor into the main event. The low-fat turkey sausage adds a palate of delicious spices and richness, the beans and spinach ample heartiness, with a lovely fresh note from the generous helping of herbs. This is certainly a complete meal in a bowl, but it wouldn't be out of the question to serve it with a hunk of crusty bread to soak up all the delicious broth.

If you like to riff on recipes, as I am wont to do, I encourage you to experiment with other types of beans and hearty greens. Chickpeas and kale, perhaps? Although it's not quite as good as fresh off the stove or after a day or two in the fridge, extra portions of this soup will freeze pretty well for future meals. With my winter CSA starting next month, I can this recipe making a reappearance in my house in very short order.

Leek, Potato and Spinach Stew
adapted from Eating Well
serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 links hot or sweet Italian turkey or chicken sausage (6-7 ounces), casings removed (optional)
2 cups chopped leeks (about 2 leeks), white and light green parts only, rinsed well
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound new or red potatoes, halved and thinly sliced
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
8 ounces spinach, stemmed and chopped (about 8 cups)
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 15-ounce can cannellini, navy, or other white beans, preferably no-salt-added, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, chervil, chives and/or parsley

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage, if using, and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally and crumbling the sausage with a wooden spoon, until the leeks are tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and salt and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add wine, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add potatoes and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Stir in spinach and scallions and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in beans. Cover and let stand for 1 minute. Divide among 6 soup bowls and sprinkle each portion with herbs.

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