Late last week, the weather forecast in Portland was predicting snow and freezing rain for a couple of days. This corner of Oregon gets plenty of rain all winter long, but for snow to make it to the valley floor, everything has to line up just so. We need a cold east wind from the Columbia Gorge, moisture coming in from the south or the Pacific Ocean, and of course cold temperatures.
Well, and wouldn’t you know it, all those requirements were met Thursday! By mid-day the snow started to fall horizontally due to the howling gorge winds. By late afternoon, the snow turned into freezing rain and before long everything was covered with solid ice. We enjoyed a couple of quiet days at home.
This definitely qualified as soup weather, so I cooked a big pot of Potage Celeste. It is a potato-leek soup with lots of celery added. I’ve been making it for years, and love the simplicity of it. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods! I originally found the recipe in one of the Moosewood books. I leave out the dairy to keep it vegan and add a little kick with cayenne pepper.
And just because we’re having so much fun around here with snow and ice, more is apparently on the way for Wednesday!
That means that I’ll make another batch of this delicious Potage Celeste! Just in time for more snow!
Here’s the recipe:
- 2 to 3 medium leeks, trimmed, washed well and chopped
- olive oil
- 3 cups celery, sliced
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- a couple of bay leaves
- 3 cups of potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
- a clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
- a little cayenne pepper if you like it spicy
In a large soup pot heat a splash of olive oil over a medium flame.
Add the leeks and sauté for a few minutes.
Keep a close eye on them so they don’t get burned.
Next, add the celery, salt and tarragon and cook for a few more minutes.
Now add the potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, apple, garlic and vegetable broth or water.
Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender.
Purée the soup, including the bay leaves, in a blender until very smooth and creamy.
Return the soup to the pot and add the milk and cayenne pepper if using.
Reheat gently until piping hot.
Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.
If the soup is too thick, you can thin it out with a little extra milk or water.