the ultimate irish lunch

I love meals that appear when you are absolutely sure you don't have anything to eat. A lonely leek here, leftover buttermilk voila. This soup is deliciously simple and flavorful--just leeks, potatoes and garlic, really. A good, homemade broth can make all the difference. If you've never made your own, it's time you do.
Probably the best thing about this meal is the appearance of fresh bread after a mere 45 minutes. The soda bread comes together in a snap, and after the soup is made you can pull it out of the oven to enjoy. For those who have never enjoyed irish soda bread, it's sort of like the bread version of a scone. You can substitute whole wheat flour at a three to one ratio if you'd like.
Now to what must be glaringly obvious...potatoes, irish bread, green soup. Yes, this is probably the unintentionally best-timed post I have ever made....happy st. patrick's day!

potato leek soup

5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 leeks
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil
chicken or veggie broth, pref. homemade

Cut leeks in half lengthwise, then slice fairly thin. Rinse in bowl of cold water. Dry leeks, then saute them in olive oil over med. high heat. When they begin to soften, add the garlic. After a couple minutes, before garlic browns, add the potatoes and chicken broth to cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender, 15-25 minutes.
Transfer mixture to blender, and puree completely. Add broth to desired thickness, season with salt and pepper.

irish soda bread *
3 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl.Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk. Stir, adding more buttermilk if needed; the dough should be soft, but not wet or sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead just enough to bring the dough together. Turn it over and pat it into a round loaf about 1 1/2 inches high.
Place on a baking sheet and cut a cross into the top of the loaf with a knife. Cut fairly deeply into the bread, being sure to cut all the way to the edges; this helps the bread to rise properly.
Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400°F and bake for another 30 minutes or until done. To test, tap the bread on the bottom. It will sound hollow when done.

*from the art of simple food, by alice waters