Growing up in New England, the seasons are everything. Spring, summer, fall, and winter dominate everyday from wardrobe to outlook on life. They especially play a role in food choices. Whether it's what produce is in the store or what ingredients you can afford to buy, the seasons really affect how we eat.
As fall turns to winter in November, soups and stews dominate menus everywhere. In the summer, fruits and vegetables need very little help to taste vibrant and fresh. When cooler temps prevail, seasoning, blanching, boiling, and braising become necessary to create the flavors of fall.
With the winter months fast approaching, this potato, leek, and broccoli soup really hit the spot. Creamy, salty, and packed with wintery vegetables. Plus, who doesn't love crunchy bits of pancetta and toasty bread.
Potato, Leek and Broccoli Soup with Pancetta Crumbs (from Food and Wine)
- 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
- 3 small leeks (about 2/3 pounds), white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (2 cups)
- 2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch broccoli—florets coarsely chopped, stems peeled and sliced
- 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 cups fat free half-and-half
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- One 6-oz loaf of sourdough bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoons chopped sage
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped rosemary
In a very large pot, melt 1 stick of the butter. Add the leeks, potatoes and broccoli and cook over high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock and 6 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until all of the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, puree the soup until very smooth. Return the puree to the pot and stir in the half-and-half. Season the soup with salt and white pepper. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, pulse the bread cubes in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the oil. Add the pancetta, sage, rosemary and bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the crumbs and pancetta are browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the pancetta crumbs and serve.
What's your favorite winter dish?