Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Goat's Beard" Soup

As I was making this luscious, velvety smooth and just-rich-enough Cream of Leek and Potato Soup, I was struck at what a pretty color it was: a lovely pastel green with a hint of yellow. It looked familiar and comforting. And it didn’t take me long to figure out why: it’s the color of my kitchen walls!

The paint chip was labeled “Goat’s Beard,” and I never really gave the name a second thought. It was the light shade of green I wanted to blend with the deeper sage green (called “Washed Khaki’) in the adjoining dining room and office/den, and coordinated perfectly with the golden orange (called “Himalayan Paw”) that accented the bulkhead all around. That Martha Stewart can get pretty creative even with paint names.

I merely thought these were unique names. Now I had to look up “goat’s beard.” It’s a perennial plant (aruncus dioicus) and the color of the flower does indeed look like my kitchen walls. (I learned this from my favorite perennial supplier, Bluestone Perennials, who happily shared this picture with me. Bluestone, based in Madison, Ohio, incidentally, ships anywhere at the right time for growing. Great greenhouse.)

I can figure out what Washed Khaki describes, but Himalayan Paw? Has to be a strange big cat, right? Kinda. It’s a popular Persian cat, although not big, but the colors of the pads, or paws, can vary widely. The closest thing I found to the color of my bulkhead was cinnamon-pink. Close enough.

Back to the soup.

I was inspired to make this soup thanks to The Splendid Table, the National Public Radio program hosted by Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. I subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that never fails to offer something unique, but doable, for a weeknight. Highly recommend it. They were inspired by Julia Child. Imagine! All these great cooks right alongside me as I whipped up this soup and awed at my own walls!

As you can see, the recipe is not really a recipe, more like a framework, arming one with the right proportions to embellish to one’s heart content. I didn’t get carried away. Chopped chives was it. Next time, who knows.

I’m loving my new immersion blender. Making pureed soups like this is a piece of cake now. No transferring from pot to processor, in portions, and back again to the pot. No chance for spillage. It’s the best little appliance I ever introduced to my little kitchen, which can’t stand one more thing on the counter, or to store in the cupboard. A little rearranging was all it took to keep the new blender handy but hidden.

Master Recipe for Leek and Potato Soup
Adapted by The Splendid Table from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking, By Julia Child

Makes about 2 quarts, serving 6

3 cups sliced leeks, white and tender green parts
3 cups peeled and roughly chopped “baking” potatoes
6 cups water
11/2 teaspoons salt
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche, optional

Bring ingredients to the boil in a 3 quart saucepan. Cover partially and simmer, until vegetables are tender. Correct seasoning. Serve as is, or puree and/or top each portion with a dollop of the cream.

Cream of Leek and Potato Soup: After simmering the soup, puree it and whisk in ½ cup heavy cream. Reheat to the simmer again before serving.

Other variations:
  • Substitute onions for leeks
  • Add a bunch of watercress to the base soup for the last few minutes of cooking before pureeing.
  • Add anything else you have on hand, such as cauliflower, broccoli, green peas, spinach, raw or cooked, making it your house soupe du jour. (Actually, I did this, adding broccoli stalks, asparagus stalks, spinach leaves not pretty enough for a salad, etc., and, frankly, the color just couldn’t match my goat’s beard, so I’m sticking with leeks and potatoes!)
Here's my favorite picture hanging on my Goat's Beard kitchen wall.  Thanks, Amy!


  1. I do love the color and the tale of your walls! (musty be a pretty kitchen). I would love to dive into that soup-that-looks-like-spring.

  2. I love goatsbeard (and its smaller, more common cousin, astilbe); the soup (and your kitchen) sound lovely as well. And yes, the immersion blender is one of the greatest kitchen inventions.

  3. I adore the Splendid Table. I listen to it every week! And I love that color of green too. My living room is a very similar color :-) Thank you for sharing another great recipe with me. You never let me down! I hope you have a weekend of love and relaxation. We all need it, I think!

  4. We eat with out eyes first so if something is visually apppealing like the lovely green of this soup we would relish it!!!!

  5. That's an interesting name :-)) The soup looks very creamy, warm and tasty!

  6. Claudia -- My kitchen is pretty -- just little! And the soup was great.
    Mary -- When I saw the goat's beard picture I knew it looked like the more familiar (to me!) astilbe!
    Monet -- There's a lot of NPR stuff I like; The Splendid Table is a favorite. Yes, we all need a nice relaxing weekend; not in the cards for me, though. Wedding today!

  7. Hello! I just met you over at Val's and thought I'd stop in. I am deliciously happy that I did. The goat's beard soup sounds wonderful. I love the the little "saying" that you have hanging in your kitchen.


  8. Its sounds lovely, like a simplified and warm vichyssoise (which I LOVE). And indeed, a very pretty color...

  9. Hello Rosemary. First, I want to thank you for visiting my blog and for your nice comment.
    Second, I am so happy that I met you and your blog. Your recipes seem to be done specially for me! I LOVE this soup, which I make in the same way. NO cauliflower, broccoli or whatever vegetable. They will just cover the wonderful and subtle taste of the leeks.
    Have a nice week.

  10. The soup looks so good. It is always a pleasure to check out your blog! I hit a milestone on my blog this past week and I Thank You for helping make it possible by coming to my blog and commenting. Thanks Again!

  11. Delicious! Nothing like a simple soup such as this one to entice and comfort.

  12. Goats Beard is such a whimsical name for a color. Leave it to Martha Stewart to think of that ;) The leak and potato soup sounds and look delicious!

  13. I love the Splendid Table on NPR - so relaxing to listen to them. Leek and potato soup is on my list of things to make. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Rosemary-Love the comforting and delicious soup...interesting name for it, and also enjoyed your post very much.
    Would love a cup of this yummy soup right now.
    The best part about it, it's an easy and great recipe!

  15. Hi Rosemary-I'm back again, just to let you know that your are the winner of my giveaway. Please contact me to give me your address, so I can mail out the book to you.
    Congratulations, I hope you will enjoy the book!
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  16. that is a great colour for walls as well as your soup! I do love my immersion blender too!!
    I have never heard the splendid kitchen I will have to look for it


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