Simple, delicious potato leek soup
Recipe follows at end… (that’s why it’s “Journeys over a Hot Stove” – the “journey” part of the blog is over the “hot stove” part).
Driving from the east toward northern New Mexico sends you almost invariably through Kansas, well south of I-70 onto US 54 – through Wichita and west through Kingman, Pratt, Hays and Greensburg where suddenly you have a choice: veer right to Dodge City and then scoot down US 56, or stay on 54 down to Liberal, in the southwest corner of Kansas. Either way, you see plenty of the Oklahoma panhandle before crossing over to Clayton, New Mexico. We’ve done this trip half a dozen times or more in both directions, and naturally we look for new routes, including dusty county roads, just to see what we might be missing.
But our Kansas route always took us though Greensburg. It’s home to the country’s largest hand-dug well – about thirty feet wide and a hundred feet deep – which supplied water to the town for some fifty years. Greensburg is also famous for being completely obliterated by an EF5 tornado in 2007 – the largest tornado to touch down in the U.S. in eight years, with a funnel some two miles wide and winds over 200 mph. The tornado was wider than the town and struck it dead center. It killed 14 of the town’s 1500 residents and reduced more than 95% of its homes and buildings to kindling.
The town is still rebuilding seven years later, but with only half as many people and houses. Everyone else took off, leaving only their foundation slabs as a reminder they were once there. In keeping with the town’s name, what’s being rebuilt is going “green:” all new city buildings are being built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “platinum” standards, making Greensburg the first town in the U.S. to do so. Its power comes now from wind turbines, with corporate support from Ben & Jerry’s, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and others. In this regard, at least, Greensburg is # 1 in the country. Nice work.
I haven’t been there since the tornado, but on our several trips through it we always stopped for supplies or to poke into an antique shop. Maybe someone we’d speak to would give us some insight into why they lived here, for how long, and how they spent their time – or maybe even pose for a photo. For whatever reason, it never happened. I liked the town. It was pretty and had a friendly vibe. But we never made any connection past that. It happens.
I’ve always liked photographing people in different parts of the U.S. – friends, random acquaintances, strangers. When I don’t know them well or we’ve just met, I always ask permission, and they almost always say yes. (The exception here is “street” photography – like the carney worker below – which is capturing an image of someone without their knowledge. I used to do some of that but no longer).
Faces are their own language. Even if they speak quietly, like some of these below.
Back to the soup…
This potato leek recipe originally started with James Beard, who never shied away from rich food. His version called for thickening the soup with flour, which I think is a waste of good flour. The way we do it at home, it’s leeks, diced potatoes, butter, chicken broth or stock, and some spices, and that’s it. No milk or cream, no flour, no nothing else. It’s simple, very smooth, and is great hot or cold.
Usually I use a clear chicken broth for the soup, but this batch, in the photos, features a fairly rich chicken stock (hence the darker coloring).
There you have it.