Wednesday, October 29, 2014

time for soup

Dreary fall days call for soup, don't you think?

autumn, trees, fog

I had potatoes, freshly dug from my garden. I had leeks pulled up at the farm. Karen had just written about her pot of potato leek soup on her stove in Vermont. It was pretty clear what I should do next.


I must have made potato leek soup before last week, but I do not remember it. The cookbook I thought it would be in had no recipe for it. I looked in a few cookbooks, actually, and could not find a recipe for potato leek soup. I was sure that one of my vegetarian cookbooks would have one, but no. I wonder what that says? Is it too common a recipe? Too boring? Truthfully, I've never really craved potato leek soup and maybe, if I'm being completely honest, before this I would have said, that, yes, it is boring. I do not remember ever having potato leek soup that was quite as good as the one I finally made. Maybe it was the freshness of the vegetables. Maybe it was growing them myself. [Oh, and by the way, those leeks? We grew them from seed. It's hard to imagine those teeny tiny seeds, sprouting to what looks like blades of grass, ever forming fat leek roots, but they do. Those leeks once looked like these tiny onion babies and then in the garden, can you even see them in that first row?]

My go-to cookbook for general techniques (and sometimes just for fun -- really, I love reading about testing recipes) is Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe. I don't always agree with their opinions (I think zucchini bread should have some spice and I think clam chowder is better made just with bacon grease and not the actual bacon), but I still think it's a great reference. So I gave up on the vegetarian cookbooks and checked there. I found their measurements a bit strange (4-5 lbs of leeks to 1 3/4 lbs of potatoes) and maybe, also, the fact that I do not have a large soup pot made the sound of 11 cups of sliced leeks sound like much too much. I only had 2 leeks and I estimated how many potatoes I thought would be a good compliment (that's how I usually cook and I think that's how most cooking should be. Use what you have. Improvise. Don't worry about following directions exactly). So here's my improvised version. It really did taste delicious. Creamy and hearty and warming. Just the thing for a dreary fall day.

Potato Leek Soup

  • Leeks (I used 2 large)
  • Potatoes (I used 5 that were smallish medium -- I aimed for about equal amounts of leeks and potatoes)
  • 3-4 TB of butter
  • 1 TB of flour
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or whatever broth you have on hand) and, if needed, water to cover the potatoes.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
Clean the leeks, trim off the roots and the dark green parts and then chop them into about 1 inch pieces.

Melt butter in a soup pot until it starts to bubble. Add leeks and cook, stirring every now and then (this part will smell delicious!). Don't brown the leeks and don't let them get too soft. You want them to turn a lovely bright green and be tender. At that point, stir in flour and mix until it dissolves and keep stirring for about another minute.

Turn up the heat and using a whisk, slowly add the broth. It will become nice and thick. Add your potatoes and bay leaf and, if needed to cover the potatoes, a bit of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes.

Check the potatoes. If they are beginning to soften, take the pot off the heat and let stand for about 10-15 minutes, letting the potatoes finish softening and the flavors infuse. If they are still rather hard, let the soup simmer a bit longer before taking it off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.


soup, blue bowl, potato leek soup

My dreary day photo does not do this soup justice. Take my word that this soup was delicious. Or maybe you already love it? If not, try it. I think you'll like it.

4 comments:

  1. If you serve it cold the next day (pureed or not) you can call it Vichyssoise! Tres French, non?

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  2. We use the fabulous Alice Waters' recipe in "The Art of Simple Food", but add more potatoes than called for and blend half of it to make a thick and chunky version. I think the garden fresh ingredients make a real difference in the flavor.
    Hooray for soup weather! (And we have accumulating snow forecast for Sunday here in Vermont...)
    xo

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  3. Your soup looks so yummy! That photo of trees and mist sums up the weather at this time of year and is perfectly eerie for Halloween too. I love it!

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  4. Tree photo is absolutely gorgeous and soup looks so yum!

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