As you know from my previous post, I've been ill lately and spending time at my folks house being pampered with such luxuries as hot and cold running water, free laundry, awesome old cookbooks to pour over and more television than I've watched in the past three years.
Since I was as weak as a newborn kitten, Pa's been doing the cooking. The other night he made a delightful soup with leeks and Cashel Blue cheese. It's easy, fast and delicious and he's given me leave to share it with you all today.
Cashel Blue is a delicious, creamy blue cheese from County Tipperary in Ireland. This is one of my favorite blue cheeses. There's a nice balance between the creamy, salty, peppery and sweet flavors. Mild enough for the novice blue cheese eater, flavorful enough for a die-hard blue advocate.
You don't have to use Cashel Blue for this recipe. I can think of a few other blues that would do the job quite nicely:
- Gorgonzola (try going for the slightly more aged Mountain, Dolce could be just too sweet)
- Saint Agur-a triple creme blue from France that tastes like butter and blue cheese got it on and had a baby
- Blue D'Auvergne-another French blue, a bit more bite than the other two. Could be a bit strong for some blue cheese scaredy-cats.
Really you can use any blue cheese you want as long as it's a cheese that will melt well, and is mild enough to let the numminess of the leeks shine through.
According to Pa, this recipe serves 6 for a main course. I think it's 6 for an appetizer/starter or 3 for a main course, but maybe I was just really hungry that night.
· 3 large leeks *
· 2 oz. butter (1/2 stick)
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 4 oz. Irish blue cheese, such as Cashel Blue (or any melting blue-veined cheese like Gorgonzola)
· 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1 tablespoon mustard, or to taste
· 6 1/4 cups chicken stock
· Ground black pepper
· 1/2 cup blue cheese and chopped chives to garnish
Thinly slice the leeks. Heat the butter and oil together in a heavy-bottomed pan and gently cook the leeks, covered, for 10 - 15 minutes until soft but not brown.
Crumble the cheese into the pan, stirring over low heat until completely melted. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the pepper and mustard to taste.
Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer very gently for 15 minutes.
Serve garnished with additional cheese crumbled on top, along with chopped chives. Serve with crusty bread and a cold Riesling.
*How to clean leeks so your guests aren't eating a soup full of grit (Pa's directions):
Take off the very tough green leaves of the leeks. Slice the leeks into 3-inch long sections and halved those long wise, then let the "semi-cylinders" soak in cold water. The idea is for the layers to loosen up any grit/sand/dirt hiding within to float out and sink to the bottom. You bet. Rinse the hell out of them.