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Healthy Cooking: Ditch the carbs with this potato-less leek soup

Eggs, not potatoes, give this hearty, dairy-free soup a velvety texture. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES
Eggs, not potatoes, give this hearty, dairy-free soup a velvety texture. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES

My husband is the love of my life. My best friend, however, is the love that makes my life more livable. She is smart, witty, and ready to chauffeur my kids at the drop of a frantic text. Which is why I did not judge her when she announced she is cutting out all starchy carbs, including and especially potatoes. Instead, I put away the chips, and adapted our ladies-who-lunch favorite, potato leek soup, to fit her new lower-carb lifestyle.

Leeks are pleasant, refined members of the Allium genus. Like their oniony cousins, raw leeks are a natural blood pressure reducer, and are a good source of iron and vitamins A, B-6 and K. Unlike onions, they don’t make me cry while chopping. And chopping is essential for cleaning and preparing these sturdy stalks. Start by trimming away the dark green leaves and fuzzy roots. Then cut the light green and white parts horizontally into thin rings. Give the rings a good rinse under cool water, and use your fingers to remove any gritty dirt. There’s no need to dry the leeks after their bath; any remaining water droplets will steam away during the vegetable saute.

Since I was skipping the potatoes, I needed to find another ingredient to give my broth a creamy taste and texture. Eggs may not be your usual go-to when making a vegetable soup. But if you are a fan of Avgolemono, you know that eggs can transform a simple broth into something magical. The secret is to “temper” the eggs. Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Then continue to whisk as you drizzle a ladleful of hot (not boiling) soup into the eggs. Slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the pot, and watch the soup become thick and rich. I am a fan of all things luxurious, so I wrote this recipe with two eggs. If that’s too eggy, or too cholesterol-y, for you, by all means drop down to one egg. Either way, selecting eggs that are labeled pastured (as in, from chickens raised on grass) will ensure that your soup is fortified with omega-3s.

If you’re running short of time, you may be tempted to simply crack the eggs directly into the soup and skip the tempering step. Don’t, or else your friends will judge you for serving scrambled egg soup. And don’t skip the finishing touches, either. Fresh dill and freshly squeezed lemon juice (from a real lemon, please) are essential for rounding out the flavors. Sure, it takes a little extra work to keep fresh garnishes on hand. But like really dear friends, they’re absolutely worth the effort.