Wednesday, March 3, 2010

LEEK AND POTATO SOUP


What's for dinner tonight? It's a chilly, rainy day in early March, so I thought a nice soup would be appropriate. With a salad, and a few slices of good bread, maybe some feta cheese to end with, there we are, that should make a nice meal. The leeks are looking good, I have a few nice potatoes left, and I just need to run out and get some parsley and cream. I'll be making leek and potato soup. Be right back... This is going to be a quick trip to the market. Although it's March, snow is still piled high on our lawns, and I've started to feel that all our spring greenery will permanently disappear underneath the brown muddy cover of the earth. So I want to be indoors, downing spoonfuls of warm soup, peeking to see if the rain has stopped, imagining how my garden will look in its prime, imagining I can go outside now, there to look up and see blazes of yellow and brilliant blue piercing through outstretched naked tree branches.


How do I make leek and potato soup?


First off, prepare the bouquet garni. Gather bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and rosemary. Bind the garni safely inside some leaves of leek. The garni will bring a wonderful aroma to the soup. Now get to work.


Ingredients:

  1. 5 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  4. 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  5. 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  6. 4 leeks, well cleaned and sliced in thin strips. Use only the white and light green part of the leeks.
  7. 4 or 5 Yukon gold potatoes, enough to weigh 2 & 1/2 pounds, diced into one inch pieces
  8. 4 or 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  9. 1 cup half and half
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  11. chopped chives 
  12. bouquet garni made up of 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 15-20 peppercorns. Wrap the bouquet with a few tender leek leaves and tie it with kitchen twine. You may need to make separate accommodations for the peppercorns, as they might slide out of the bouquet during cooking. A good option is to tie the peppercorns separately, inside a piece of coffee filter or cheesecloth.  
Bouquet garni on chopped leeks, and peppercorns that will be bound in a piece of coffee filter.


Directions:

  • Clean and prepare the leeks for cooking. Cut off the root end and discard the rough green leaves. Save the white and light green part of the leek. Cut it in half lenghwise, and rinse each half several times under cold running water. This method ensures that the soil and sand that has remained between the leaves is washed off. Chop the leeks into thin slices.
  • In a stockpot heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, celery, parsley, and the leeks. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients become soft. Make sure they are not browned. If necessary add about two tablespoons of water to keep them from browning.
  • Add the potatoes, the bouquet garni and the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 30 -35 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. Discard the garni.
  • Ladle half the soup out of the stock pan and reserve.
  • Using an immersion blender puree the soup remaining in the stock pan.
  • Return the reserved portion of soup to the stock pan. The soup will now be a nice mixture of chunky and pureed textures.
  • On medium-low heat warm the soup. Once the soup is again hot, turn off the heat.
  • Warm the half and half in the microwave. Slowly pour it in the soup, stirring. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into to soup plates and sprinkle some chopped chives on top if desired. Serve while still hot.

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