Tuesday, November 15, 2011

of other comforts...

The heart is an inconsistent organ. Not the anatomical heart (though, even that is prone to palpitations) but rather that proverbial organ we associate with all that the mind refuses to take responsibility for. The same trivial thing that excites and fascinates it one day, will deplete and bruise it the next day. It craves, indulges, ignores, forgives... all in the blink of an eye. Mine was in pretty rough shape a few weeks ago, and since heartache isn't something you can call in sick for, I took my troubled little heart with me to work. Eight hours, many diners, and a few heart-felt conversations later, I was so surprised to be walking home with my heart set on recovery. I knew I was feeling better because the thought at the tip of my mind was how I would go home and try making this soup. The girls I worked with that day, with their timely humor, unassuming wisdom, and genuine conversation, had managed not only to make me feel better about my uncertainties, but given me something to excitedly put an apron on for... Incidentally the two ideas they planted in my head practically spell comfort: baked potato soup and banana marshmallows. At some point that night after a bowl of hearty soup and a cup of hot chocolate (marshmallows as my excuse) I sat on my bed with a book and smiled... and to smile when no one's looking? Well that's really something...

Baked Potato (and leek) Soup

2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 leeks, washed and sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme; optional
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
3 cups water
3 cups stock
1 1/4-pounds (600 g) potatoes, baked, pealed and cubed (in that order)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper
sour cream, bacon bits, and chives for topping

In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter or heat the olive oil.

Toss in the sliced leeks and season well. Cook the leeks over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring until they’re soft and wilted.

Add the thyme, if using, and chile powder, and stir for another minute, cooking them with the leeks to release their aroma.

Add stock, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then fish out the bay leaves and puree the soup in a blender adding warm water if too thick.

Top with a dollop of good sour creme, a hand-full of chopped chives, and some bacon bits.

Homemade Banana Marshmallows

2 tbsp gelatin
3/4 c water
1 c sugar
3/4 c corn syrup
1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp banana flavor/extract/essence
1 pinch salt

Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper or foil and dust the paper with powdered sugar.

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin powder over 1/4 cup of the water. Add the sugar to the remaining water in a pot and heat until warm but not hot. Add the gelatin mixture to the warm syrup and stir until fully melted.

Pour this mixture into a large bowl. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, and banana extracts, and begin beating with an egg beater at high speed. Don't be alarmed by the brown colour... if you beat it for long enough it will be good and the colour will disappear.

Continue beating until the mixture cools, increases in volume, and forms soft peaks. Working quickly before the mixture fully sets in the bowl, transfer to the pan that you have prepared. Smooth the top with a wet spatula and let stand for three hours.

Turn out, cut and coat with powdered sugar.

...and as for hearts, well,
hearts will never be practical
until they can be made unbreakable...


  1. Those are the best kinds of smiles.

  2. beautiful. glad your'e back! have missed your lovely posts!
    (formerly lmtyrrellphoto.blogspot)

  3. your post made me smile to myself too. it's such a relief when the heart take a turn and decides to be happy again. lovely blog, mina.

  4. This is wonderful writing - really wonderful. the soup and marshmallows are pretty wonderful sounding too.