Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Oct 15, 2013

Silky Leek and Red Wine Soup

Libations used: 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs red wine...
Libations left over: About 3/4 of the bottle...
Angelenos have started busting out their warmer scarves and boots, so that means only one thing — soup season!  This Silky Leek & Red Wine Soup from Food & Wine uses pretty minimal ingredients and is a quick weeknight dinner recipe.  I stopped by the Sunday Santa Monica Farmers Market and bought some beautiful, fresh leeks and a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.  It recommends using a dry red wine such as a Bordeaux, but I ended up grabbing an inexpensive bottle of Barbera from La Famiglia Pirovano.  This is one of those really thick, bread-enriched soups, so need to serve with a side of bread.  Opt for a light salad instead.  Nevertheless, it's creamy and satisfying, and you can't beat the cheap ingredients (save for the saffron).
Silky Leek and Red Wine Soup - serves 4
  • Four 1-inch thick slices of country bread (I used sourdough) with the crusts removed
  • 3 1/2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on top of the bread
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs dry red wine (I used a Barbera)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil.
- Bake until they're crisp, for about 10 minutes.
- Rub the toasted bread with the garlic clove.
- Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the 3 Tbs of olive oil.
- Add the saffron and all but 1/2 cup of the sliced leeks.
- Cook until the leeks are tender, for about 4 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup of the red wine and reduce to about 2 Tbs.
- Add the chicken stock and lower heat to a simmer, for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the toasted bread pieces and simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Purée the mixture in a blender or food processor in batches.
- Return the soup to the saucepan.
- Stir in the cream and the remaining 1 Tbs of red wine, and season with salt and pepper, keeping warm over low heat.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1/2 Tbs of olive oil and the reserved leeks, cooking over moderate heat until softened, for about 3 minutes.
- Using a heatproof spatula, form the leeks into four 2-inch rounds.
- Sprinkle 1 Tbs of the cheese over each round.
- Cook for another 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Transfer the rounds to a plate and let them cool until crisp.
- Transfer the soup into bowls and top each serving with a leek crisp.