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A Leek in the Soup Pot

January 27, 1994|MARION CUNNINGHAM

Like most home cooks, I tend to repeat a great new recipe until it is no longer welcome--like a house guest that stays more than three days.

These days, leek and potato soup is an endangered soup in my house because I've cooked it at least five times in the last two weeks. In my defense, the soups I've cooked have not been exactly alike. After trying several variations on my basic recipe, I became curious about the classic French version of leek and potato soup ( potage Parmentier ) and turned to Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." As usual, she has something appropriate: a simple combination of potatoes and leeks stewed in water, pureed and then enriched with cream.

My recipe is slightly different because the vegetables (I like a little celery in the mix) are cooked in water and milk, and I don't add cream. And if you want to make vichyssoise, add four cups of water instead of three and reduce the milk from three cups to two cups. Cook as directed. After pureeing and cooling the soup, add one cup of heavy cream and chill before serving.

The arugula and iceberg salad will surprise you if you have never mixed these greens. This is an example of opposites that really do attract. The dark-green leaves of arugula taste sharp and peppery in contrast to the crisp, delicate iceberg leaves.

Arugula can be found in many supermarkets, and most farmers markets have a good variety of seasonal salad makings such as arugula (also called rocket), cress, loose-leaf and lots of fresh herbs.

LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

3 tablespoons butter

6 small or 3 large leeks, well washed and thinly sliced

3 stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced

3 cups water

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cups milk

Salt, pepper

Melt butter in large pot. Add leeks and celery. Cook 10 minutes over moderate heat, stirring often.

Stir in water, potatoes and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat about 20 minutes more. Stir every 10 minutes, so vegetables don't stick to bottom of pot.

Remove from heat when potatoes are done. Put soup into food processor or through food mill. Puree until smooth. Add more milk or water if soup is too thick. Soup should be as thick as heavy cream. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

182 calories; 201 mg sodium; 25 mg cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 1.26 grams fiber.

ARUGULA AND ICEBERG SALAD

1 head iceberg lettuce, core removed, rinsed, chopped into bite-size pieces

2 cups arugula, rinsed, patted dry

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pepper

Put pieces of iceberg lettuce into large mixing bowl. Cut arugula leaves in half, if too big. Add arugula to bowl of iceberg lettuce. Toss to combine. Put dampened paper towels over top of greens. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Combine vinegar, water and salt in small jar with lid. Cover jar and shake mixture until salt dissolves. Add garlic, olive oil and mustard. Cover jar and shake to blend. Season to taste with pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add dressing to salad. Toss well. Serve. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

172 calories; 635 mg sodium; trace cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.73 gram fiber.

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