An edible experiment for the season
WHAT: Bellingham Farmers Market
WHEN: 10am-3pm Dec. 13 and 20; monthly markets happen Jan. 17, Feb. 21, and March 21
WHERE: Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Here’s a hint: If you’re visiting the Bellingham Farmers Market on a blustery Saturday morning and the alchemists behind the counter at Evolve Truffles ask if you want a homemade marshmallow to go with your drinking chocolate, do not hesitate in answering in the affirmative.
Trust me when I say that after sipping the warming concoction, you’ll forget not only that you were cold just moments beforehand, but also that there’s evil in the world.
My stop at Christy and Shannon Fox’s truffle booth at the market came at the tail end of my annual December sojourn to the market. The edible experiment is simple: I show up with $20 and see what local foodstuffs are still available as we edge ever-closer to winter. Sometimes I have a menu in mind, and other times I wing it depending on what’s offered by the farmers still in attendance at the Depot Market Square.
For this visit, I was looking for recipe items that would put to use the last of the leeks from my garden. The steady downpour decided it for me; it was most definitely a soup-and-sandwich kind of a day.
If I’d needed to, I could’ve acquired arm-length leeks from a number of purveyors still sticking it out in the chillier months of the market, but since I had those covered I went in search of Yukon gold potatoes for the potato leek soup I planned to make later that day.
I found what I needed at Alm Hill Gardens, where the spectacular spuds were selling for $2.50 a pound. After eyeballing what I thought was the correct amount the recipe called for—two pounds—I went to pay and discovered I was over by more than a pound. Rather than remove a couple potatoes, however, I was told I’d only have to pay for two pounds. In addition to the deal, I also received a hint about making potato leek soup—adding leftover salmon to the mix makes it that much more savory, I was told.
Other purchases included hot peppers for 25 cents each from Dona Flora, a $5 slab of gouda from Samish Bay Cheese, and a $6 loaf of smokey wheat and rye bread from Raven Breads—a one-woman organic bread company run by baker Sophie Williams.
I still had $3 left, and that’s when I made a beeline to Evolve Truffles. After warming me up with a sample of the drinking chocolate and oh-so-delicious marshmallow, I had just enough to bring home a gift-wrapped holiday truffle (featuring a peppermint crunch made with organic candy canes as well as pomegranate with candied orange peel).
The soup and open-faced toasted cheese sandwiches I made with my farmers market haul later that night—and again the next day, when the sun finally came out—were just right for the season. Once again, my experiment was a success.
Potato Leek Soup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 leeks, white and green parts only, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into half-inch pieces
7 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus more for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
Chives, finely chopped (optional)
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary so as not to brown.
Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.
Fish out the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches.) Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.