Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Potato Leek Deliciousness

On Saturday I had the last surviving portion of the fabulous French Onion Soup I made last weekend. I'm amazed I managed to make it last that long.
Being yet another chilly and slightly rainy weekend, I decided I needed to make another batch of soup. This time, as the Satur Farm leeks looked good and were on sale, I decided on potato leek soup, which I enjoy either hot or cold (when cold and served with a dash of cream, it's known as vichyssoise).
However, I went through 2 Julia Child cookbooks, 2 Silver Palate cookbooks, one Gordon Ramsay, and one Jamie Oliver, and could not find a recipe I was happy with. (I'm sorry Julia, but I just can't start my soup by boiling potatoes and leeks in water. I'm going to sauté those suckers first.)
So, as so often happens, I'm doing this one off the cuff. An amalgamation of the various recipes I read.
Unlike the mac and cheese, I will try to actually tell you how I did it.

2 leeks, white and pale green used
4 medium yukon gold potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 bay leaf
couple sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup half and half/cream
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
chives (for garnish)

Note on using leeks - because of the way they grow, there will be dirt trapped between all their layers. In order to clean them properly, you must first cut off the root end and the dark green tops, then slice the leek in half lengthwise. Next, dice the leek into half moons of whatever desired thickness. 
Keats watches me wash the leeks
Then place them in a bowl full of cold water and swish them around. The dirt particles should sink to the bottom of the bowl. I usually end up giving them two baths, depending on how much dirt appears.
That's a lot of dirt.
Don't forget to wipe down your work surface before continuing as well.

Step one, sauté your leeks in the melted butter and oil on medium-low. Season with a generous couple pinches of salt to help the leeks sweat out, and I left the lid on for about 10 minutes to speed the softening process. Removing the lid, I cooked the leeks for another 10 minutes.

Next, I added the 4 potatoes, which I had cut in fourths and then cubed, the bay leaf, fresh thyme springs, and the water and chicken stock. (I use a combination so the flavor of the chicken stock does not overwhelm the flavor of the vegetables.) Bringing the stock up to a boil, I then re-lowered the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer, covered, until the potatoes were tender. About 15 minutes.
If you make your potato cubes larger, it will take longer for them to soften. Simmer accordingly.

REMOVE THE BAY LEAF and thyme sprigs.
Using an immersion blender, with the stove turned off, I puréed the soup until smooth. I then added about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup of cream and checked the seasoning. Potatoes and cream will both suck up any salt or other seasonings you use in any dish. Add white pepper and salt.
The soup WILL need salt.

I chose to garnish this soup with chopped chives, but another delicious topping would be crisped prosciutto. (10 minutes in a 350º oven on a baking sheet) Because most things taste even better with prosciutto.
As proved, yet again, by the dinner I had at Motorino Brooklyn on Saturday. Swap out the sausage for fresh prosciutto on that pizza? No problem. The result? Deliciousness...

Alternate seasoning that really kicks it up would be Chorizo Salt, which I used sparingly when reheating this soup the next day, and Yum!

I hope this recipe works for any who endeavor to follow it. The final product is truly dependent on your method of seasoning, since what you are working with is basically just potato and the onion's fancy cousin that spent that semester in Europe, "studying".
But it is quite tasty in its simplicity.


BenTheMan said...

I don't have an immersion blender, so I scoop into my regular blender. I really like a) cubing the potatoes a bit finer than you've done here and b) only pureeing about 50-75% of the soup. That way there are still little bits of interesting goodness to stumble across, but you maintain that creamy consistency. Yukon Golds are an excellent choice!

Jordan said...

This soup looks fab- and I love the kitty in the background, he could be the twin of my baby mougwili.

Chuck said...

My mouth was watering the whole time I was reading this...now I have to log off and go find something to eat!

Joe Ambrosino said...

Nice cookin, baby!

Laura said...

Yum - that is one of my favorite soups!
Is that a Henckel Twin Cuisine santoku knife (that's what we have :) )?

RocknRollGourmet said...

Actually most of my knives are Global, except for my bread knife which is a Shun.