Saturday, December 12, 2009

Potato Leek Soup with Pancetta & English Cheddar Puffs

More soup, because it is cold outside today. Actually, it is cold inside too.

Apparently Seattle is supposed to get some snow soon, which will be lovely... for anyone who doesn't need to use a car. I know folks from other Northern states who chuckle at the chaos that unfolds in this city when we get even a trace of snow, but they don't seem realize that the whole city is pretty much built on a 90 degree incline. I don't exactly get around in a monster truck, so word of snow puts me a little on edge.

Anyway, dinner tonight is potato leek soup with pancetta served with warm savory english cheddar puffs. Easy, hot and yummy. Exactly what I need.

Not so Humble's Potato Leek Soup with Pancetta:
Serves 8

1 leek, washed and the white portion finely chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 pound thick sliced pancetta, cubed
2 large boiling potatoes peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups whole milk

In a pot over medium high heat, add olive oil and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the leek, celery, pancetta and potatoes and saute for another 3 minutes stirring often. Add the three cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a separate pan until bubbly, add the flour and cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the milk and whisk until smooth. Once the sauce thickens, add it to the soup mixing well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

(Just a quick shout out to Mother Humble in London: See Mom! I used that cheese you left behind! You can stop worrying about it going to waste now.)

These are wonderful savory little puffs, packed with cheddar flavor. They make great appetizers and they are also great with tonight's soup.

If you can't find a nice English cheddar, be sure to substitute a sharp cheddar. Milder cheddar cheeses don't pack enough flavor for these puffs, so keep that in mind. This recipe also calls for french fried onions, for which I've provided a recipe at the bottom of the post. If you don't want to go through all the trouble of making your own fried onions, feel free to substitute the store bought variety.

Not so Humble's English Cheddar Puffs:
yields roughly 32 puffs

1/4 cup butter
1 cup plus two tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup packed, grated sharp English cheddar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup french fried onions

Preheat your oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small pot, add the butter, salt and one cup of water and bring to a boil. Grab a wooden spoon, reduce the heat to medium and add the flour. Mix with the wooden spoon for about 2-3 minutes until the dough is glossy and has pulled away from the sides of the pan.

Add the dough to your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the cheddar, thyme and pepper and mix on medium low speed to combine. Then add the french fried onions, mixing until just incorporated.

Add the dough to a pastry bag with a wide round tip and pipe 2 inch blobs onto the parchment, about an inch apart. Alternatively you can just spoon blobs onto the parchment, if you don't want to bother with a pastry bag.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffy and golden. Serve immediately.

French Fried Onions:
1 small yellow onion
1 cup flour
oil for frying

Prep the onion by peeling, halving and then slicing very thin.

Pour a couple inches of oil into a pot, enough to cook your onions without crowding them. Heat the oil to 350°F using your candy/deep frying thermometer. Take the onions, a small handful at a time, and coat them in a bowl with the cup of flour. Shake off the excess and sprinkle them into the hot oil. Let cook until a golden brown color, roughly 3-4 minutes. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining onion, allowing the oil to reheat to 350°F between batches.


  1. I have a question...
    all these cookies, candies, cakes, sweets that you make... what do you do with them? I can't imagine that you eat them all, you and your family, so where does it all go?
    I just started reading your blog so you might have mentioned it before I just don't know where to look.
    Do they store well? How do you store them, for instance, your marshmallows (that I'm going to try to make this week), how should I store them and for how long?
    Also, a completely wonderful blog that is so inspirational. Thank you! And thank you for all the great tips like how to use and apply icing! Educational!!

  2. Actually, it isn't a question that I've addressed yet on my blog.

    I do make a lot of sweets, I know. So, where does it all go? Well...

    With cookies, I almost never make a full batch. Unless I am cooking for my husband's laboratory. I usually make only a dozen cookies (or less) at a time. My dough is made in advance and then portioned into small flat bricks, wrapped tightly and frozen. When I need to make cookies for myself or this blog, I just pull out a a packet of dough, let defrost on my counter for about 20 minutes and then I start baking.

    About 90% of the fudge I made last week is cut into one pound chunks, tightly wrapped and frozen. It freezes well so I can just pull it out to defrost as I need it.

    Also, I'm lucky that my husband is one of those people who can just eat and eat and eat and never gain a pound. He is my human food disposal man-machine. He gobbles up all the sweets, cakes and pastries before they tempt me. I also have a teen aged brother in college who is more than happy to eat anything I give him. So things rarely go to waste around here.

    As for storing the marshmallows, I keep them in an air tight container. Mine are still just as soft and fluffy as they were a week ago (I credit the rice flour for part of their longevity). I would imagine that they will keep for roughly 2 weeks like that. Perhaps longer, though they usually don't last much longer than that around here.

  3. Thank you for the answers, it clears up alot for me. I didn't even consider freezing the cookie dough!

  4. New to this post - can't wait to try the English puffs! I'm guessing they won't last long in our cheese-loving family!
    Thanks for the great recipes & cool blog!

  5. Holy mother of great saint Christmas but does that soup look amazing!

  6. i lvoe your blog and that soup looks delicious! i made cheese puffs a few weeks back (with a pollock & harrissa stew) but without the dried onions - the were a bit bland and the boyf wasn't a fan, going to have a re-try with them added in!

  7. I'm trying to NOT run tot he store again this close after a huge Christmas feast. Could the soup work OK without the Pancetta? I've got all the rest, something I could sub perhaps, or just do without it?

  8. I have the cheese puffs going in the over right now and they smell delicious! I wasn't sure how they were going to come out, since the batter seemed so runny with the eggs, but some mixing brought it all together and into my family's tummy :)

  9. It has been snowing for 14 days straight here in Pittsburgh, I am doing a lot of blog reading and cooking! I am so glad I found your blog thru Sunday Hotpants...wonderful recipes. Do you ever post calorie/carb counts in your blog? With the sweets, I guess if you have to ask you really shouldn't eat it..thanks for sharing all your wonderful photos and recipes!

  10. I doubt I will ever post carb or calorie counts with my dishes. It would just take a lot of time going over my ingredients and doing the calculations. This blog is already an enormous time sink ;)

    With my own meals I try to keep things low calorie and low glycemic index. This is how I balance out testing all the sweets as I bake. Occasionally some of these meals make it onto the blog and they are usually tagged as 'healthy'.


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