creamy potato leek soup

creamy potato leek soup |

If you followed your childhood dreams, would it lead to ultimate happiness?

When I was a kid, I wasn’t into cartoons. I watched Jacques Pépin with my grandmother who was an incredible cook. She was French- he was French- it all made sense. Food fascinated me and playtime revolved around exploring my curiosity. I made up recipes, hosted imaginary cooking shows, and mastered that Easy Bake Oven like nobody’s business.

Then school happened….

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simple baked risotto

simple baked risotto / The Clever CarrotThe last time I made risotto, I caught my 4 year old trying to give the cat a haircut.

You see?

This is what happens when you decide to make risotto at 5 o’clock on a weeknight. You become a slave to the stove, frantically stirring away while your kids try to pull a fast one on you (the cat survived). What was I thinking?! Gone are the days my friends.

This is baked risotto.

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

No stirring, no babysitting. Your oven does all of the work.

All you need is a Dutch oven and a couple of basic ingredients to get started. I flavor my risotto with leeks, however a small onion or maybe some shallots would work as well. Give them a quick sauté, and then add your aborio rice. Cover with liquid and bake for 45 minutes. Because of the natural starches, there is no need to douse it in extra butter and cream. The result is a rich and oozy risotto rival to any restaurant.

Boring you say? But wait- think of the possibilities…

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

Blistered cherry tomatoes with baby artichokes + torn mozzarella •

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

Portobello mushrooms with shredded chicken + herbs •

While your risotto is in the oven, use that time to whip up a quick topping if you want. I used the leftovers from our Superbowl antipasti platter (yes, that’s how we roll) to make the first dish. For the second version, I combined bits and pieces of leftover roast chicken with sautéed mushrooms.

Then I threw it all together in one pot just because I was curious… it was so good!

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

One last thing- when your risotto comes out of the oven it will be quite liquid, which is how it’s supposed to be. If you prefer a bit thicker, just let it sit so that the rice can absorb additional moisture. You can easily correct the texture with more or less liquid according to your liking.

Dust with parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself a feast!

simple baked risotto / The Clever Carrot

simple baked risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. sliced leeks (white + light green parts only) or 1 onion, diced
  • 1½ c. aborio rice
  • ⅓ c. dry white wine
  • 5 c. chicken stock, divided + more to taste
  • ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • salt + pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over low heat.
  3. Add the sliced leeks and saute until soft, but not colored about 5-10 minutes. If the leeks start to catch on the bottom of the pot, lower your heat and add a splash of water to loosen.
  4. Add the rice and stir thoroughly.
  5. Pour in the wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Add 4½ cups of chicken stock.
  7. Cover and place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove the risotto from the oven. Add the remaining ½ cup of chicken stock, parmesan cheese, and butter and stir frequently for about 1-2 minutes. The texture should be oozy, not stiff. Add extra stock if necessary.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese to taste.
  10. Serve right away.

beef + barley soup

beef + barley soup | The Clever Carrot

I had no plans to make this soup… it picked me.

That’s usually how my posts go. I was drafting a tutorial on how to cook brown rice (boring?) but when I went digging around for the rice, I got distracted by a little packet of barley. Oh, I remember this… total impulse buy due to super cute packaging labeled ‘ready in 10 minutes.’ Beef and barley soup it is.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t think of anything else to make at the time. There are several types of barley (see this article) and they are all very good for you. Coupled with flavorful veggies and tender meat, this soup is a brothy version of beef stew. The red bell pepper and butternut squash add incredible flavor and a festive punch of color too (anything stew-like can look a bit drab, don’t you think?) If you’re looking for a hearty, melt-in-your mouth soup, I think you’re going to like this one.

Oh, and get ready for a boring brown rice tutorial ;)

beef + barley soup | The Clever Carrot


  • When choosing beef, bypass the pre-cut cubes and go for a whole piece of beef chuck. It’s less expensive and has better marbling (which adds more flavor).
  • If you are making this in advance, skim away the fat only after the soup has been refrigerated. It will solidify and float to the top, making it easier to remove.
  • I like to serve this with hot pickled chili peppers (the vinegary kind that comes in the jar). It’s really, really good!
beef + barley soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 lb. beef chuck steak (whole)
  • 2 leeks, white & light green part only
  • 1 c. carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 10 oz. mushrooms (1 pack)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 c. butternut squash
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. rosemary leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp. flour
  • ¾ c. pearl barley (I used quick cook)
  • 2-3 quarts of good quality beef stock
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley + sprigs
  • hot pickled chili peppers
  • parmesan cheese
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over moderate heat.
  2. Cut your beef into bite-sized cubes. Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess as you go.
  3. Add the beef to the pot and brown on all sides (you might have to do this in batches). Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to a plate. Set aside.
  4. Roughly chop the first 6 vegetables and thinly slice your garlic.
  5. Saute the leeks, carrots, celery, and mushrooms until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.
  6. Add the rest of the vegetables, garlic, and rosemary leaves.
  7. Add the beef back to the pot.
  8. Pour in just enough beef stock to cover, about 11/2- 2 quarts. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer (lid on) for about 1½ hours.
  9. Using a small ladle, skim away any fat on the surface. *See note below.
  10. Add the barley. Depending on what kind of barley you are using, cooking time will vary. I used the 'quick cook' variety which was ready in 10 minutes. Add more stock if necessary.
  11. Taste your soup. If the meat is very tender, it is ready.
  12. Add the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve with parsley sprigs, hot pickled chili peppers, and parmesan cheese (if desired).
*If you are making this in advance, skim away the fat only after the soup has been refrigerated. It will solidify and float to the top, making it easier to remove.