I can’t believe that I successfully made it though my 30 day detox. I hit a really dark patch on the third weekend, as I sat around the dinner table and watched my friends drink a nice decanted Vacqueyras while eating gluten-free chocolate cake. But other than that, the month kind of flew by.
The process of retox-ing this weekend with wine, chocolate, and green tea was almost as interesting as the elimination experiment itself. People talk a lot about mindful eating. But as I was faced with my first glass of grape juice in a month, I think I learned what mindful drinking feels and tastes like. It’s my goal to keep that kind of integrity in my alcoholism and transition from being an equal-opportunity drinker to more of a high minded dandy.
Perhaps I was already on my way to earning my fancy pants. A few months ago I ridiculed my girlfriend Lydia for bringing over a bottle of Cavit to a dinner party at my apartment. It’s the bottle I usually cook with. But more importantly, it represents the larger scale industrial vineyards that I’m no longer interested in investing my taste buds and liver cells in. She was appalled that I would scoff at a $12 bottle of wine, because a few years ago, anything over $10 would have been seen as an occasion to break out the fine Ikea stemware. But I feel one of the milestones of late-twenties adulthood these days is graduating to the $15 to $30 wine bracket. For lack of more concrete accomplishments like, say, owning a home or being able to keep a plant alive for longer than 3 weeks, this is something we can take pride in.
I went on a little tangent there. But one of the things I’ve noticed in my detox is the amazing halo effect all these limitations have had on my cooking. It’s really forced me to live my message. I’ve cooked for pleasure and eaten more meals at home this month than ever before. Sure, part of this is that not drinking and the fact that it’s been cold and gloomy most of March has turned me into a little bit of a hermit. But in the process, I’ve gotten back to making simple one pot meals that last the whole week, so they’re always something delicious, healthy and homemade in the fridge. And so that I never have to leave the house.
I’ve started seeing beautiful bunches of asparagus at the market, but it hasn’t felt enough like spring to really use them in their naked form. A few weeks ago I added them to this vegan and healthy version of potato leek soup. I love using potatoes to make soups creamy and cut down on the need for dairy. The resulting concoction tasted like cream of asparagus soup and a potato leek soup had a love child. It’s delicious, even if the complexion doesn’t scream spring. Until the weather does, who cares?
Eat it alongside a nice glass of wine, if your taste buds have come of age in such a way, or 5 buck chuck out of a mason jar. I won’t judge.
This potato soup recipe is a hybrid of two of my favorites - cream of asparagus soup and potato leek soup. I made my version vegan and healthy, but still creamy. Since it's all one texture, I recommend some herbs or croutons for garnish.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large russet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Saute the shallot and leek over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, until fragrant. Pour in the wine and salt. Simmer until reduced by half, scrapping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the potatoes and cover with stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the asparagus pieces and remove from the heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then puree with an immersion or stand blender until very smooth. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature with spring herbs and a drizzle of olive oil for garnish.