My sister introduced me to Ethiopian food many moons ago. Ever since, we have really enjoyed eating at Ethiopian restaurants but I have never prepared any dishes at home. After receiving collard greens and parsley in my CSA share, this seemed like a fitting menu to try. It could be served any time of year. For us, it was a perfect meal to serve on a rainy and cool June evening.
I loved the brightness that the grated ginger, lemon, and chopped fresh chile added to the tender, stewed collard greens after cooking. The chickpea stew recipe utilizes the genius technique of incorporating ground red lentils to thicken the base.
The recipes were adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I changed the proportions and decreased the heat intensity. I served it over rice with dollops of whole milk Greek yogurt to offset the spice. I also omitted the fresh chile garnish in the chickpea stew. In a restaurant, these dishes would be served with injera, Ethiopian flatbread.
Yield: Serves 4
For the Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat):
1 1/2 T ghee
1/2 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger, divided
scant 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 pound stemmed collard greens, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons and roughly chopped
3/4 to 1 cup chicken, vegetable or beef stock, divided
1/2 to 1 Fresno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Berbere Spice Blend: (you will have a little extra)
1 T smoked sweet paprika
1 1 /2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
scant 1/2 tsp garlic powder
heaping 1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/4 tsp dried basil, ground or crushed into a powder
1/8 tsp ground cumin
For the Chickpea Stew (Shiro Wat):
2 T red lentils
3 T ghee
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups (1 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 to 10 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 T minced or grated fresh ginger
2 T Berbere Spice Blend (above)
2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 jalapeño or Fresno chile, stemmed and chopped, optional (I omitted it)
cooked rice, for serving, optional (I served both dishes over white Basmati rice)
whole milk Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
injera (flatbread), for serving, optional
To Make the Stewed Collard Greens:
In a large pot over medium, melt the ghee. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, the cardamom and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Add about half of the collards and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, then add the remaining collards.
Stir the stock and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes.)
Off heat, stir in the chopped chile, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 tablespoon ginger.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.
To Make the Spice Blend:
In a small bowl or jar, stir or shake together all ingredients until combined. The berbere will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot for up to 2 months. (I used a recycled glass spice jar.)
To Make the Chickpea Stew:
In a spice grinder, pulse the lentils until finely ground, about 10 pulses; set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium, melt the ghee. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and berbere. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have given up their liquid and the mixture is beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, ground lentils, 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until the sauce clings to the chickpeas and the desired thickness and consistency is achieved, about 15 to 20 minutes. (If serving over rice, cook the rice at this time.)
Off heat, stir in the parsley and chili (if using).
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the stewed collard greens and chickpea stew with injera or over rice topped with a dollop of yogurt, as desired.
In Venice, this classic dish is traditionally served on April 25th, St. Mark’s Day. This version was adapted from Michela Tasca, owner of Ca’ de Memi Farm and Bed and Breakfast in Piombino Dese, outside of Venice, Italy, via 177MilkStreet.com, contributed by Diane Unger.
The recipe is similar to risotto in its cooking method and because it incorporates arborio rice, but this dish is much more fluid and soupy. It is definitely for pea lovers! Whole peas and puréed peas are mixed into the creamy rice. I loved the vibrant, beautiful color of the finished dish.
Yield: Serves 4
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large white onion, half thinly sliced and half finely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 quart chicken stock or broth
2 cups frozen peas, divided (1 cup frozen, 1 cup thawed & at room temperature)
2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 ounces pancetta, cubed or finely chopped (I used uncured pancetta)
4 T salted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces, divided
1 cup arborio or vialone nano rice
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces (1 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
In a medium pot, combine the carrot, sliced onion (reserve the chopped onion), celery, fennel seeds, stock (or broth), and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover, reduce to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables have softened, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the solids to a blender, draining as much of the liquid as possible. (It’s okay if some of the fennel seeds remain in the pot.) (I used a Vitamix.)
Add 1 cup of the stock to the blender along with the parsley and the still-frozen peas. (The frozen peas cool the mixture so that it remains a brilliant green.) Leave the remaining stock in the pot, covered, so that it remains warm. (I kept the pot over low heat.)
Blend the solids, parsley, frozen peas, and cup of stock until the mixture is completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; set aside. (You should have about 3 cups of purée.)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved chopped onion, pancetta, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and pancetta are lightly browned and the pancetta fat is rendered, 6 to 8 minutes. (I used a low, wide, enameled cast iron pot.)
Add the rice and stir until the grains are coated with fat, about 1 minute.
Stir in 1 cup of warm stock. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Ladle in additional stock to barely cover the rice, about 1 cup at a time, and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 5 minutes per addition.
Repeat the addition of stock, about 4 or 5 times, until the rice is al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and let stand uncovered for 5 minutes.
Add the thawed, room temperature peas and the reserved purée; stir into heated through, about 1 minute.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; stir until melted.
Stir in the Parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve sprinkled with additional grated Parmesan, as desired.
I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂
We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.
For the Dal:
3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5½ ounces)
3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces)
3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5¾ ounces)
2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)
1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
For the Roti:
2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting
3/4 to 1 cup water, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
melted ghee, for brushing
For the Tadka:
3 tablespoons ghee
3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
brown Basmati rice, optional
steamed spinach, optional
To Start the Dal:
Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.
To Make the Roti Dough:
Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.
To Season the Dal:
Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
Cover and keep warm over low.
To Cook the Roti:
Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.
To Make the Tadka & to Serve:
In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.
Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.
I am a big fan of toppings, so this creamy, earthy, and hearty vegetarian soup caught my eye. It is served over toasted chunks of bread and then garnished with crunchy, spiced chickpeas, lemon zest, parsley, a sprinkle of cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. I also loved that the soup incorporated a little spice from harissa.
This recipe was adapted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan, via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans which significantly expedited the cooking process. I also served the soup over toasted sourdough boule chunks in lieu of rustic bread. Great.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
For the Crispy Chickpeas:
1 3/4cup cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1teaspoon za’atar, plus more to taste
For the Soup:
1 1/2cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1/4cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 1/2teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2loaf hearty rustic bread (about 6 to 8 ounces)(I used 1/2 of a sourdough boule)
1cup chopped onion, from 1 medium onion
6 to 8 largegarlic cloves, minced or finely grated
1tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
1tablespoon tomato paste
1tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 T), for serving
1/2cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving
To Prepare the Crispy Chickpeas:
Transfer the rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
Cover with another towel (or paper towels) on top, rubbing gently to dry.
Remove top towel and let air-dry for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. (I let them dry for 2+ hours.)
To Prepare the Soup:
In a pressure cooker (I used a stove-top pressure cooker), combine soaked chickpeas, 5 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot.)
Place the pot over high heat, until the pressure cooker reaches the second ring (high). Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure for 35 minutes. (If using a stockpot, bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.)
Remove from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
While chickpeas are cooking, cut bread into thick slices, then tear or cut slices into bite-size pieces.
Place bread in one layer on large rimmed baking sheet and toast until crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan and set aside.
Finish the crunchy chickpeas: Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Remove the towels from baking sheet with the chickpeas, and toss the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and za’atar until well coated.
Roast until golden and crispy, about 13 to 18 minutes, tossing halfway through. When chickpeas are still hot, sprinkle lightly with more salt. Taste and add more salt or za’atar, or both, as desired.
When the chickpeas for the soup are tender, discard bay leaves.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil to a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cumin and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add a splash of the chickpea cooking liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat.
Add chickpea purée and onion mixture to soup, along with harissa and lemon juice, and stir well. Add a little water if soup seems too thick, and more salt, if needed.
To serve, divide toasted bread pieces among soup bowls, then ladle in soup.
Garnish with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil, more cumin and some of the crispy chickpeas — you’ll have leftovers. Serve hot, with more harissa on the side, as desired.
I served this tasty dish for our Mardi Gras dinner followed by our essential celebratory King Cake for dessert. It was festive and delicious.
I admittedly used Cajun seasoning instead of Creole Seasoning- gasp! After making the dish, I read about the similarities and differences between the Cajun and Creole cuisines. Both cuisines use a roux, the “holy trinity” composed of onions, bell peppers, and celery sautéed in oil, and both are from Southern Louisiana. Cajun food incorporates more smoked meats and rice, such as jambalaya, and is from more rural parts of the region whereas Creole cuisine, such as étouffée, is from New Orleans. I included the recipe for the homemade Creole seasoning below. (for next time!)
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Vallery Lomas. I modified the cooking times and doubled the garlic. I also used store-bought seasoning and omitted the dried basil. The shrimp was cooked perfectly.
Yield: Serves 4
For the Creole Seasoning: (Optional)
1tablespoon smoked paprika
1tablespoon chili powder
1teaspoon onion powder
1teaspoon garlic powder
1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, if desired)
1/2teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
For the Shrimp:
1pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large tail-on shrimp)
2teaspoons homemade or store-bought Creole seasoning, divided (I used Slap ya Mama)
1/4cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick / 4 T)
1/3cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
1medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
2celery ribs, thinly sliced
1green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 to 8garlic cloves, minced (I used a food processor)
1(15-ounce) can tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 to 2teaspoons hot sauce, to taste (optional) (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
1teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 T fresh thyme)
1/2teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 T fresh oregano)
1/2teaspoon dried basil (or 1/2 T fresh basil)
2dried bay leaves
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4cup)
1/4cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
steamed rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
Make the optional Creole seasoning: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. The seasoning makes about 1/4 cup; store it in a closed container in a cool, dry place. (Only 2 teaspoons are used in this dish.)
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Then toss the raw shrimp with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large, heavy skillet with a lid, melt the butter over medium-low heat. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
Sprinkle the flour on top and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until a roux the color of peanut butter forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully- if the roux burns it cannot be saved.
Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Stir in 1/3 cup water, then the tomato sauce, hot sauce (if using), sugar, thyme, oregano, basil (if using), bay leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. (If needed, add more water.)
Once the stew has thickened, add the seasoned shrimp and simmer until opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning each piece halfway through the cooking time. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, uncovered.
Serve over steamed rice sprinkled with sliced scallions and chopped parsley.
This is an absolutely incredible vegetarian stew. Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb or beef, but the author described this version as just as savory without the meat. I absolutely loved it. ❤
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I substituted American globe eggplant for the smaller Japanese eggplant and incorporated Campari tomatoes. I also used fresh lime juice instead of dried black limes. We ate the stew over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wow. 🙂
Yield: Serves 4
8–9+ T vegetable oil, divided (I used canola oil)
2 globe eggplants (about 2 lbs), peeled, cut into 1-inch rounds OR 6 small Japanese eggplants (about 2 lbs), peeled, halved lengthwise
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
4 T double-concentrated tomato paste
10 Campari tomatoes, cut into eighths OR 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 lb), seeds removed, coarsely chopped
2 cups stock (can substitute water)
3 to 4 cups water
3 lemon omani (dried black limes) or 2 T fresh lime juice (see Note)
cooked basmati rice, parsley leaves, plain yogurt, and flatbread, for serving (I served brown Basmati rice, Greek yogurt & warm naan)
Heat 6 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.
Working in batches, cook eggplant in a single layer, adding another tablespoon of oil if pan looks dry, until deeply browned, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with coarse salt. (I added an additional 4 tablespoons of oil to cook the second batch of globe eggplant slices.)
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to same pot and cook onion over medium to medium-high, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned around the edges, 8 to10 minutes.
Sprinkle turmeric and cinnamon over and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes; cook, still stirring, until tomatoes have burst and mixture is very thick, 5 to 9 minutes.
Nestle eggplant into sauce and season lightly with salt.
Pour in stock and 3 cups of water; bring to a simmer.
Pierce dried lemon omani with a paring knife and add to pot. (If using lime juice instead, add when dish is finished cooking.)
Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until thickened and eggplant is almost creamy in texture, 40–50+ minutes. (I cooked mine significantly longer to achieve my desired thickness.)
Divide rice among bowls; ladle stew over. (I served the stew over brown Basmati rice.)
Top with parsley and yogurt and serve with flatbread. (I served it with warm naan.)
Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, puréeing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with crème fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.
I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.
This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious 😉 ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.
Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12
2 1/4 to 2 1/2pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
5fresh bay leaves
3pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
3pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
1cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
6garlic cloves, minced
1(4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
Cut kielbasa into 4 to 5 equal lengths, and cover in a pot with 3 quarts cold water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then let gently boil for 25 minutes more until swollen and cooked through and beads of oil have formed.
Pull sausages from the now smoky and seasoned water, and set aside. Save that water!
While the kielbasa simmers, split leeks in half lengthwise, then soak and rinse in cold water to thoroughly remove all sand. Slice leeks into 3/8-inch half-moons from whites to dark greens, as far up as is viable.
Peel potatoes, trim all four sides to stabilize on the cutting board and trim both ends to “box” the potato. Save the scraps. Cut the boxes into large cubes, about 3/4-inch square.
In a sturdy soup pot (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven), melt 1 stick butter over low heat until foaming.
Stir in onion, garlic and a healthy pinch of salt, and let them sweat for a full 5 minutes until translucent.
Stir in remaining butter, the sliced leeks and another generous pinch of salt, then let sweat slowly over low heat for 8 minutes until moist, bright green and glossy.
Add potato scraps, the cube of bread and half the kielbasa boiling liquid. Let gently simmer 10 minutes while the potato scrap softens and the bread hunk becomes flabby and swollen. If you need to increase the heat to get a little simmer going, do so.
Meanwhile, slice kielbasa in half lengthwise. Place two pieces back into the soup pot as is, and then slice the remaining 6 pieces into very thin, 1/8-inch half-moons, and set aside.
Retrieve the soggy lump of sourdough bread with a slotted spoon, and don’t worry if you also get a few bits of leek or onion or whatever is floating in the soup when you pull it out. Also remove about 1 cup of liquid, and set aside.
Add potato cubes and the rest of the kielbasa liquid to the pot. Add another pinch of salt and half the black pepper. Let it come back to temperature, and then to simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 25 minutes more.
Using either a stick blender or a traditional blender, purée the sodden hunk of bread until foamy, using half of the liquid you pulled in Step 10, if needed. (I used a Vitamix.) Stir this back into the soup pot once the potatoes are cooked through.
Slice the reserved kielbasa and return all of the kielbasa to the pot.
Whisk the crème fraîche with remaining 1/2 cup of the hot reserved liquid; stir mixture into the soup.
Stir in the chopped dill and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon pepper. Serve very hot.