Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
Vegetables on their own can often lack some of the heartiness and the flavor which is associated with meat. Not so with this recipe, where a combination of leeks, onions, potatoes, carrots, lentils, toasted bread topped with the sharpness of mustard, and the great heartiness of Swiss cheese makes for a superb blend of flavors. The combination creates a sweeter-than-usual soup with a strong taste from the leeks/onions, wine, and chicken stock, which makes it a great deal more flavorful than the average vegetable soup.
Flexible enough to provide for a hearty meal without the addition of any meat, it is also relatively cheap; perhaps the only expensive element in it is the baguette (this may, of course, vary on your region as baguettes are quite expensive where I live, $3.25) and the Swiss cheese, but the rest of the meal is quite a bargain for the amount it makes. Combine this with the healthy nature of this vegetable stew, and it becomes an appetizing, delicious, and attractive meal for everyone.
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This recipe draws some distant inspiration from The Best of Gourmet written by the editors of Gourmet in 1999, but this is a quite dramatically different dish as I changed what was originally a light, small, first-course recipe into one which is intended as a large family-style meal, with some liberal changes to the ingredients.
- 4 leeks
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3 small red potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 3/4 cup sweet white wine, such as a moscato
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 onion
- 1 cup lentils, (optional) (can also be served as a side dish)
- 8 oz Swiss cheese, (this and following ingredients are for the cheese toast accompaniments)
- 4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- 1 baguette
- First, cut off the tough upper green sections of the leek, leaving the white parts (note: these upper sections can still make for a good vegetable stock if you feel wasteful). Then half the remaining white sections and cut into segments, then clean in a bowl of cold water.
- Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a large casserole bowl or dutch oven, then add in the leek segments and the peeled and cut onion. Cook for 30 minutes with occasional stirring, over low-medium heat. The leeks should be starting to turn golden and browned in appearance. Then add the 2 teaspoons of sugar and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the 3/4 cups of white wine, and cook for a few more minutes. Then add in the chicken stock.
- Add to the leeks the carrots which have been peeled and cut into small segments, and the potatoes which have been peeled and diced. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- (Optional) Place 1 cup of lentils in 5 cups of cold water in a separate bowl, bring to a boil over high heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Cut baguette diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices, however many are desired and reserve the remainder for another time. Toast them on their side in an oven, 4 inches from the heat, for 5 minutes, then sortie them, and spread 1/2 teaspoon of mustard on the un-toasted side of each slice. Then proceed to place a thin slice of cheese on each one, and broil until the cheese melts, 5 minutes.
- Season stew with salt and pepper and serve. (Optional) One option is to add the lentils into the soup. Be cautious concerning this as they will take over much of the soup and dominate it compared to the leeks. In contrast, I suggest that they they can be served separately.
© 2018 Ryan Thomas