Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes       Photo by Valerie Phillips

Idaho's governor,  C.L. "Butch" Otter went on the defensive Tuesday after a new Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded regularly eating potatoes contributes to weight gain.

According to an Associated Press article, the Governor's response was — Duh! 
Otter said that regularly eating any kind of food irresponsibly can lead to weight gain and health problems.
Otter also panned the study for failing to adequately explore the nutritional value of spuds and unfairly singling out tubers as a weight-gain culprit. 

Potato-Leek Soup      Photo by Valerie Phillips
I am pretty sure potatoes aren't the bad boy of the food world; it's the company they keep. For instance, all the grease in french fries and potato chips. The cream and butter in mashed potatoes. The loaded baked potatoes bursting with bacon bits, sour cream and cheese. Potato salad liberally doused with mayonnaise. And things like Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes (although you can mitigate the damage a bit by using milk instead of cream). But they're almost diet food compared with Mormon Funeral Potatoes, where hash brown potatoes are swimming in butter, sour cream, melted cheese and cream of chicken soup. 

But there are plenty of potato dishes that aren't high in fat.  One is my recipe for Potato-Leek Soup, which can be made with fat-free half-and half. It has a velvety texture, and the leeks give it a delicate flavor.  A package of Steam “n” Mash russet potatoes streamlines preparation to less than 30 minutes total. You can also use frozen diced hash brown potatoes, or peel and dice fresh ones, but you should allow more cooking time.

Leeks are like giant green onions or scallions.  I like to cook the tender white  parts with the potatoes, and use the dark green parts as a garnish.

1 tablespoon butter
2 medium-size leeks 
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove of garlic
2 14-ounce cans chicken broth 
1 24-ounce bag Steam ‘N’ Mash russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1 cup fat-free half-and-half,  or milk 
Melt the butter over low heat in a stock pot. Meanwhile, rinse the leeks. On a cutting board using a chef’s knife, slice the white and light green parts in about 1/4 inch slices. You should have about 3/4 cup. Reserve some of the dark green part to use as a garnish.

Raise  the heat to medium-high and add the white and light green leek slices, and garlic. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, until leeks are wilted and fragrant. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and bring soup to a gentle boil for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are falling apart.

Remove from the heat and stir in the half-and-half or milk. 
Puree the mixture in a stand blender, in two batches; or use a hand-held blender to puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. If soup seems to thick, thin with a little water or milk.

To serve, top with green leek slices. Makes about 4 1-1/2- cup servings.


1 comment:

Alisa said...

I agree with you on the potatoes,it's how it's cooked and the other ingredients with it that makes it so fattening. I found you from the foodie blog roll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this potato widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about potato recipes,thanks!