Kira’s Potato Leek Soup

potato leek soup

Guest Recipe by Kira

The potato leek part is my older daughter’s favorite soup, and we make that quite often, and she prefers it without any milk or cream. Both kids love the novelty of having the green star in the middle, and they actually eat the spinach (swirling it with the soup to dilute the taste). I think the spinach purée alone makes a pretty tasty dairy-free “creamed spinach” side dish, but since I am the only one in the family who likes creamed spinach, I don’t make it unless I am making the soup.

If you don’t have a kosher for Passover cookie cutter, use a cup.

Potato Leek Soup

(makes 10 servings)

3 leeks
5 tbsp olive oil
2 pounds white potatoes, chopped
2 qts water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup cream or milk (optional)

Cooking equipment
Cutting knife
Measuring cup
Measuring spoon
Large pot
Cookie cutter or small plastic cup with the bottom cut off
Blender (stick blender works nicely)

To make the plain potato leek soup:
1. Discard tough part of green tops of leeks, then wash bottoms thoroughly
2. Cut leeks into thin slices and rinse in colander.
3. Cook in olive oil until leeks are soft – about 5 minutes.
4. Add potatoes and water and bring to a boil.
5. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
6. Puree with a blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste. For a creamier variation, add ½ cup of cream or milk

Spinach Purée

1. Blanch 1 lb of baby spinach (Put in small colander and submerge briefly into boiling water until barely cooked. Then transfer to bowl of ice water.)
2. Drain spinach.
3. Puree with ¼ of batch of potato leek soup.

Assemble final soup by placing the cookie cutter in the bottom of a soup bowl. Spoon spinach puree into the cookie cutter to desired depth. Pour potato leek soup around cookie cutter to the same depth. Then remove cookie cutter and repeat in another bowl.

For more kosher for Passover recipes, visit:

Stuffed Squash for Pesach with bits of Matza and Mushroom

Pesach squash recipe
The idea for this recipe was to create a tasty food that had no meat, no dairy, no egg and would be filling. And I could eat it on Passover.


  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 box of mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 piece whole wheat matza, crumbled into farfel (bite size pieces)
  • salt and some herb spice (I used thyme)
  • a bit of olive oil for sauteeing

Bake the squash in the oven for at least an hour or until tender. Cut it in half. Take out the seeds. Scoop pieces of the squash to mix with the stuffing (I didn’t do this, but I wish I did). Saute the onion until translucent. Add chopped mushroom and celery; continue cooking until soft. Mix in matza, thyme and bits of squash. Stuff it in the squash. At this point, you can bake it in the oven. However, what I did was put it on the warming tray for 3 hours. Serves two.

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In other news, please enjoy this week’s edition of Haveil Havalim, brought to you by the Real Shaliach. Mother in Israel will be hosting the Kosher Cooking Carnival on her blog this coming Wednesday, April 22. That is why I am taking out the time late on Sunday night to type all this up instead of relaxing downstairs with my husband. When I hit Publish, that’s where I am headed. Have a good night!

Daffodil for Pesach

Daffodil, March 2009
Daffodil, March 2009

Isn’t it considerate of the daffodils to bloom just in time for my final pre-Passover post?

Links to Peruse, Ponder, Inquire, Invigorate

Recipes for Pesach

Sponge Cake
Sponge Cake watercolor on paper, 2008

Recipes on my blog

Sponge Cake Recipe
(Warning: 9 eggs separated, delicious, and highly-addictive)
Slavery to Freedom Salad
(orange, radish and mint salad)
Potato Salad with a Beet
Matzo Balls
Chicken Soup
Sauteed Mushroom Salad
Garlic Spread
Stuffed Squash
Stuffed Squash for Pesach with bits of Matza and Mushroom
(use only the kosher for Pesach ingredients, no croutons and beans are kitniyot)
Winter Slaw
(leave out the barley miso as it is kitniyot)
Farmers Market Soup
A Simple Fish Recipe
Carrot Salad
Healthy Sides
Kira’s Potato Leek Soup

Recipes Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

Ilana-Davita: Israeli Potato Salad
Ilana-Davita: Eggplant Salad
Ilana-Davita: Carrot Salad

Mimi: Potato Gnocchi
Mimi: Fish Soup
(this recipe for fish soup with vegetables is undescribably yummy)
Mimi: Almond-Lemon Macaroons
Mimi: Turkish Salad

Jew Wishes: Potato Pancakes
(you can probably leave out the baking powder on Pesach, or you can buy special for Pesach baking powder)
Mrs. S: Potato Kugel
Mother in Israel: Potato Kugel Secrets

Do you know that you can make blintzes/crepes on Pesach? Mix potato starch, eggs and water (or milk, but I can’t tolerate milk, so I don’t use it). I can’t tell you the exact amounts, so you will have to experiment. You can fill with potatoes, cheese, potatoes and cheese, sauteed vegetables, fruit, whatever you would ordinarily put in a blintz. My kids love these.

parsley sponge cake  banana and apple

I ate too much

parsley sponge cake  banana and apple
My husband told me there is a custom of fasting after Pesach (and after Sukkot as well) that is called BaHaB. The “B” is for Beis (Monday), the “H” for Hei(Thursday) and the final “B” again is for Monday. Those were the days on which people fasted after Pesach. As it is not considered acceptable to fast in Nissan, which is a happy month, one starts the BaHaB after Rosh Chodesh Iyar. Here is one article on BaHaB.

As I ate too much over the holiday, I really liked the idea that some pious people used to restrain themselves for a few days after the holiday. I actually thought of the idea for this post on Monday, but in order to write the post, I would have to think about food. Again.

Let’s start post-Sedarim. On Wednesday, I baked a delicious banana cake that required seven separated eggs (recipe is in Jeff Nathan’s Adventures in Jewish Cooking) that my family devoured by Thursday. On Thursday night I made blintzes with potato starch, which by the way, is easier than making them with flour. On Thursday morning I baked my sponge cake. Friday was a major cooking day: chicken with lemons and parsley, tongue, potato kugel, meatballs, chicken soup, steamed cauliflower, ratatouille, red cabbage with apples (again, see Jeff Nathan’s Adventures in Jewish Cooking). I also again made my Slavery and Freedom salad, only this time with parsley, because I didn’t have any mint. At least that food had a spiritual value because of its name! My Eldest Son made Pesach brownies, which I didn’t really eat, but I did nibble. On Friday night I was invited to the home of my neighbor the fabulous cook, where I had the great pleasure of meeting blogger Larry Lennhoff and his wife Malka Esther, who promised me at some point she would read and comment on my blog. My neighbor the fabulous cook served: curried carrots, eggplant salad with tomatoes and garlic that my Middle Son actually liked, cucumber salad, a garden salad, soup with matza balls, chicken, potatoes, sweet potatoes, jello and fruit salad with nuts. There were also these chocolate candies on the table, which of course I had to sample. By Sunday lunch I had no need for dessert, but somehow the last of the sponge cake got placed in front of me at dessert time, and somehow I ate one, then two, then three, then four slices. They were little slices. On Sunday afternoon I was offered some brownies at a friend’s house and was pleased with myself that I had the courage to say “no, thank you.” And the conversation about ice cream on Sunday afternoon made me feel like enough is enough.

So maybe I won’t fast next week, but a severely-reduced diet sounds like a welcoming notion.

Slavery to Freedom Salad

Orange Radish salad
I love the contrasts in Judaism. On Purim, we have v’nahafoch–as we turn around Haman’s decree against us. On Yom Kippur, we try to be sealed in the Good Book, as opposed to the other one. After Tisha B’Av, a sad fast day when the Temple was destroyed, we soon have Tu B’Av, a day where unmarried girls wearing white danced in the fields outside Jerusalem. Passover is a time when we remember both the sufferings of bondage and sweet taste of freedom.

I had fun re-creating the above salad presented by Ellie Krieger at The Jew and the Carrot. In general, the Jew and the Carrot is a great blog for anyone with culinary interests. I stole that gorgeous photo from their blog post. Here’s the description prior to the ingredients for the salad:

The tension between bitter and sweet is most clearly tasted when we eat charoset, which represents the mortar used during our bitter servitude, yet is most likely the sweetest thing at your seder table. Here’s a wonderful salad that Ellie created which plays off this tension in new and unexpected ways:

So, with this recipe’s combination of sweets and bitters, I decided to nickname it my Avdut L’Herut Salad, or From Slavery to Freedom. My kids won’t eat it (my Eldest Son already complained my kitchen smells disgusting, he doesn’t share my love of onions, garlic and herbs), but hopefully, my nieces, sister-in-law and mother-in-law will enjoy! My husband eats all my food. My best customer.

See you next week in the blogosphere!

Pesach & the Environment

recycle with question mark
recycle symbol with question mark on top

Guilt. I’m already feeling guilty about the amount of garbage our family produces on Pesach. And the type of garbage.

Gil Student at Hirhurim posted online passover guides this morning and included this note from the cRc:

Paper Goods: All are acceptable, including all paper plates, bowls and cups, all paper and plastic table cloths, as well as all paper towels. It is suggested to not use hot foods or drinks on starched paper goods. Styrofoam products [emphasis mine] may be used instead.

So this is the only time of year I buy Styrofoam. Not only is this stuff bad for the environment, it’s bad for your health, too. (I try not to think too much about this. Stress is bad for your health as well). DO NOT put Styrofoam in the microwave. Buy some uncoated paper plates and use those.

On a positive note, it is always so wonderful to see the greens on the Seder table. In Eastern Europe, where it was hard or impossible to get greens, potatoes were substituted for Karpas and horseradish for Maror, the bitter herbs. Nowadays, we can have both the greens (Romaine Lettuce for Maror and Parsley for Karpas) and the Eastern European traditions.

A tradition I’ve heard of for pre-school children is to plant parsley in a cup on Tu B’Shvat (usually occurs in February) and to nurture the plant so that it is ready to be used by Pesach. Not being very good at indoor gardening, however, (outdoor gardening is much more forgiving; Mother Nature helps), I do have some parsley growing outside my kitchen. Parsley is a biennial, so the little plants I grew from seed last summer (the ones that didn’t die in year one) are now thriving:

Sponge Cake Recipe

Sponge Cake 2008, watercolor by Leora Wenger
Sponge Cake 2008, watercolor by Leora Wenger

Has anyone heard of Esther Robfogel of Rochester, New York? This is really her sponge cake recipe. It is from the Rochester Hadassah Cookbook, which was given to me as an engagement present by mother’s friend from Rochester. Her friend used to make ten sponge cakes a day before Pesach (Erev Erev Pesach), and she gave away about seven. One year our family was one of the lucky recipients of one of these sponge cakes. A few years later, after remembering the delicious taste of that cake, I taught myself to make sponge cake using Esther Robfogel’s recipe, which she titled: Never-Fail Sponge Cake.


  • 9 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake meal
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon or orange

Beat egg whites until they hold their shape; add sugar slowly. Beat yolks and add lemon juice and rind. Fold in cake meal and potato starch. Fold in beaten yolks. Pour into large size ungreased tube pan. Bake in 325° or 350° oven for 50-60 minutes. Invert on cake rack and let cool in pan.

And don’t do what I did my first year of trying this and use a square aluminum pan. You need to use a tube or bundt pan, or your never-fail cake will fail to bake properly.

Learn about the Sponge Cake painting here