Thursday, April 25, 2013

Leek & Potato Soup

If I ever start my own political party it might have to be called the I Love Leeks Party (either that or the I Still Believe In Unicorns Party), because I adore this odd little vegetable.  Sitting somewhere in the flavor profile between garlic and onions and shallots, with green stalks that taste somewhat like green onions, yet not quite as pungent.  It's a beautifully balanced vegetable, which is what makes it ideal for this delicate Leek & Potato Soup.

I first had this soup during my time in Northern Ireland, and the chef served it with crispy leeks on top.  I've yet to master the art of making something crispy without totally incinerating it, so my hat tips to you if you can make that happen as a lovely finish to this soup.  An added perk is that this soup, while creamy and dreamy, is completely free of dairy, so it's a calorie savings on most other creamy soups.

Leek & Potato Soup

Serves 6-8


2-3 Tbsp olive oil
4 leeks, washed & sliced (green & white parts)
Dash of Kosher salt
¼ tsp chile powder
6 cups water
1 ¼ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 bay leaves
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

If you prep all your ingredients first, this soup goes incredibly quick, so it’s perfect for a weeknight meal.  And remember -- wash your leeks thoroughly, and when I say thoroughly, think akin to showering after a day at the beach.  You’re going to find grit where you never thought grit could get! 

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add in your sliced leeks, throw in a dash of salt, and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until leeks are soft and wilted.  If you can avail yourself of some Black Truffle Salt from Spice & Tea Exchange in Old Town, you should absolutely use this in place of any other salt!  A little goes a long way and you’ll get that lovely earthy aroma from the black truffle.

Once leeks are soft, add in chile powder and stir for about 30 more seconds.  For those weary of heat, fear not, I didn’t notice that this imparted any extra heat to the soup, and while it seems like an odd ingredient, just go with it, somehow it completely works.

Pour in your water and stir to deglaze anything that might be sticking to the bottom.  Add in potatoes and bay leaves, cover pot and bring to a rolling simmer for about 15-30 minutes, or until your potatoes can be easily speared with a knife.

Remove your bay leaves and turn off the heat.  Now it’s time to puree!  If you’re lucky enough to own an immersion blender, now is the time to bust that bad boy out and go all Top Chef on your soup.  If you don’t have one, first write a letter to Santa asking for one this Christmas, then you’ll want to puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Don’t use a food processor, as I hear that will make the soup gummy.  If you’re using a blender, don’t fill it more than half-full, and be sure to cover over a lid with a kitchen towel to prevent steaming or burning yourself from renegade soup bits.  With either method, puree until smooth and if you feel the soup is too thick, you can always add more water.

Stir in black pepper, and taste to see if additional salt may be needed.  Now if you want to get fancy, and you’ve availed yourself of the aforementioned Black Truffle Salt, you can whip up some garlic truffle oil in advance to drizzle on top of your soup for an added luscious kick.  Just heat 1 Tbsp of minced garlic in oh about 1 cup of olive oil, throw in some Black Truffle Salt and let that simmer away on low heat for about 30 minutes.  Strain out your garlic, and bottle up the oil for future use.  I added a sprig of dried rosemary to my bottle, because the essence of garlic and black truffle was just not decadent enough.

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe,

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