Monday, September 28, 2009
Mache and Leek Soup
I'm guessing right about now you have two questions. The first one is, what the heck is mache? And the second one is, how do you pronounce it? Well I'll leave the second question to our French friends. But the first question I can answer. It's a tender, small leafy green, also called lamb's lettuce. It has an interesting flavor that is best described as somewhere between spinach and watercress, with an unexpected hint of pea. That's right, pea. I can't explain it, I can just cook it and eat it. And I hope you will too.
If I'm going to be completely honest, this soup was supposed to be made with watercress. Watercress, I have discovered, is remarkably hard to find. They often have it at my supermarket, but it looks discolored and sad. They occasionally have it at the farmers market, but they didn't this past weekend. And Trader Joe's let me down. So I opted for mache, and was pleasantly surprised.
This soup has a very mild flavor, but it isn't bland. It's comforting and wholesome and all those usual adjectives I tend to use when I describe soup. This is basically a potato-leek soup given an extra vitamin boost. It's quite nice. Pick up some crusty sourdough and you'll have yourself a very satisfying meal.
Mache and Leek Soup
adapted from Everyday Food
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 small to medium baking potato, peeled and chopped
4 ounces mache
drizzle of fresh lemon juice
1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes.
2. Add broth, water, and potato. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until potato is tender.
3. Add all but 1 cup of the mache and stir it in so it all gets incorporated into the soup. Cook until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Puree the soup in batches, or using an immersion blender.
4. Toss the remaining mache with the remaining oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup topped with a handful of the mache salad.