Monday, November 29, 2010

Leek and Beef Soup--Another Eintopf

Sometimes we enjoy a labor intensive and sophisticated cooking that brings a "wow!' comment, but sometimes, especially after a long weekend that was most of all about cooking, a simple and easy meal is all we dream of. I do not expect that those two, or really three ingredients already sit on your refrigerator shelf, but you can get them on the way home and later, without much effort, enjoy a hearty, fulfilling meal. This soup certainly belongs in the eintopf category, as it is a rich wholesome dish in itself.

I got this recipe from my godmother. Ironically all her life she was everything but a good cook. She had a great style and taste, which was particularly striking years ago, in the most difficult economically times. She was funny and easy going. She had a business talent and was running a very profitable jewelry store, one of the biggest in northern Poland. Although we are not related, I claim to have inherited from her my "good eye" for jewelry of all kind.

After I told you all that about my godmother, you should not be surprised that I was rather apprehensive, when she called me to share this recipe. But on one busy day I decided to give this culinary experiment a try. And the result was surprisingly good, especially for the few ingredients it required.

I cannot give you the true origins of this recipe but, since my godmother is of German descent and traveled often to Germany, it likely comes from there, but perhaps not and it is just an invention of the busy generation.

This soup is so simple, that I am sure one can experiment with it endlessly--a different type of cheese can be used, or some spices added, vegetable or beef bouillon cubes, or anything extra. But if you decide to stick with the original version, it is still quite interesting. My own addition was to spice it up with a lot of freshly ground pepper and a full spoon of Italian herbs. It tastes great with a nice French country bread, but when I prepared this soup for today's post, I served it with a very fresh baguette and this worked perfectly well too.

Leek and Beef Soup
(Serves four)

1 pound of lean ground beef,
3 leeks,
3 wedges of The Laughing Cow creamy cheese, or any European equivalent,
salt, pepper,
1 tbsp of dry Italian herbs, or at least oregano,
1 cube of vegetable bouillon,
2 tbsp vegetable oil,

1. Wash leeks thoroughly, to make sure that all the dirt has been removed from between the leaves, and cut them into thin slices.
2. In a saucepan heat the oil and fry beef until gold.
3. Add leeks to the saucepan and saute them until they become transparent.
4. Turn down heat a notch, add herbs, salt, and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Cover the meat with water (about 4 cups) and cook for about 30 minutes or until soft.
5. You can add a vegetable or beef bouillon cube at that moment.
6. When meat becomes soft, add three wedges of cream cheese and let the soup simmer until the cheese melts completely.
7. Serve the soup with fresh bread.

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