You know when there's that kitchen gadget that seems pretty darned cool but you're not sure if you're going to use it that often? I mean...you've gone all this time without it. Do you really need it?! But for some reason you still want it. And you'll find a way to need it. And use it.
Hence....the potato ricer.
It's been on my list of "kitchen wants" for a while now but I wasn't sure if I really needed it. I've heard that it aids in making fantastic mashed potatoes. However, I'm a bit of a purist in some ways. All my life I've had potatoes mashed the old fashioned way. I felt a bit of a surge of pride when I mashed up a bowl of creamy potatoes by hand (however tiring it was....and on more than a few occasions, felt as if my arm was going to fall off).
Well, the other day when I asked my peeps on facebook what they were having for dinner....someone piped up with "Potato Soup!" I love potato soup and haven't had it in a while. I thought how handy a potato ricer would be for that and next thing I knew I was out and buying a one. That very day!
Next day...I find myself in my kitchen with Julia Child making Potage Celestine from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume Two. The ingredients are basic. The results are clean, fresh and more flavorful that I ever expected.
Potage Celestine (Celery Soup with Potatoes, Leeks, and Rice)
2 medium leeks, white parts, sliced and cleaned
3 cups sliced celery stalks
1/4 tsp salt
3 TB butter
4 cups chicken stock (I used 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of collard greens stock)
1/3 cup white rice (uncooked)
3 or 4 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp sugar
Salt and White Pepper to taste
4-6 TB soft butter
3 TB minced fresh chervil, tarragon or parsley (I used chives) and more to garnish if desired
Croutons to garnish if desired
In a large (3 quart) saucepan, melt 3 TB of butter over a medium low heat. Add the leeks and celery, cover and cook until tender but not browned. This should take about 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and simmer for about 25 minutes, uncovered.
In another large saucepan or pot, (at least 3 quarts but larger would be better), boil the potatoes with 2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Once the potatoes are tender, drain the water into the pan with the celery and leeks.
With a handy dandy potato ricer, puree the potatoes back into their cooking pot.
Add the milk and whip with a wire wisk until smooth (takes seconds).
If you don't have a potato ricer....it's ok. No one will hold it against you. I swear. Just put the potatoes and 1 cup of the milk into a blender and puree away. Pour back into the pot and beat in the remaining milk. See? No worries.
We're almost done.
Add the celery and leeks into the whipped potato pot and if you have an immersion blender, puree it all together
No immersion blender either? Put it back into your blender, in batches and puree it all.
Beat in the sugar and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
As is....it tastes amazing!
Now, for a little added amazingness.....check this out...
In a small bowl, mash 4 - 6 TB of softened butter and 3 TB of your choice of a fresh herb together.
Divide the butter / herb mixture between the serving bowls, blend the servings of hot soup into the bowls with the butter / herb mixture, top with croutons and maybe a little extra minced herbs and serve.
For the croutons, I used some sourdough bread, cut into little 1/4" or so cubes, dried in a warm oven (325' F) for about 15 minutes. Then sauteed them in clarified butter until golden brown.
The results of this soup? Amazing! Simple flavors blended together to make a deliciously clean soup. I do believe this is now one of my favorite soups. Ever!