09 June 2014
Classic potato leek soup for the win
It's supposed to be 85F out today, so why don't we talk about soup? That sounds totally rational, right?
We got a huge bunch of amazing leeks in our latest CSA box. And yes, we could have made so many different things from leeks. Leek gratin! Simple leek and cream sauce for pasta! Tiny leek quiches! All of those sound really good, actually. But we decided to go for the most traditional leek dish of all, and made a huge vat of potato leek soup.
This soup is excellent because it lets you use 100% of the leek to make a delicious, exciting, filling dish. The greens go into a very leeky vegetable broth while the whites melt down into delicious oniony shreds. It's super satisfying if you want to prevent food waste. And the soup itself is not only DELICIOUS but so, so cheap to make. Such a good idea.
This is almost a classic potato leek soup, with a few tiny twists. First, I made my soup subtly spicy with jalapeño, red pepper flake, and smoked paprika. Second, I added more veg, because what on earth does one do with a handful of turnips? Well, one probably roasts them, but I have yet to do that. The turnip is actually a really nice addition here, since it adds a touch of spice and some interesting vegetable complexity to the finished product.
I didn't take any pictures of the leek-prepping process, but Elise at Simply Recipes has a great post on how to clean leeks if you want some more detailed info. Or watch Jacques Pepin prep leeks! That's always fun.
Potato leek soup
3 leeks with greens
additional veg scraps for broth
lots of water
butter/oil of choice
1-2 sticks celery
1 small turnip (optional, depending on whether it came in your CSA box)
1 jalapeño (optional, depending on your spice preference)
salt, pepper, bay leaf, red pepper flake, smoked paprika, thyme, sage, marjoram
milk, cream, or plain yogurt of your choice
fresh parsley to garnish
Start by trimming your leeks. Cut off the darkest greens one at a time, keeping the core of lighter green leaves intact. Rinse your trimmings well in cold water. Then add them to a 3-quart or larger pot along with a few handfuls of mixed vegetable scraps (from the stockpile) and a bay leaf. Cover the whole business with lots of water, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer while you're making the rest of your soup. Your broth will be done after about 15 minutes of simmering. Strain out the solids and have it ready to use.
Of course, if you have vegetable stock already made, you can use that instead and freeze your leek greens for future broth application.
Next, clean your leeks. Keeping the root end intact, slice down the stalk toward the greens to split the leek in half. Rotate 90 degrees and slice again to create four quarters of leek. Wash extremely well under cold water. Be diligent here, because leeks are almost uniformly FILTHY and need real attention. Then trim off the root ends and slice your leeks into 1-inch pieces.
Melt some butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add your leeks, stir, and let cook for 5 minutes or so while you prep all the rest of your soup veg.
Scrub and chop your carrots. Rinse and chop your celery. If you have a turnip hanging around, scrub or peel it (depending on age) and cube it up. If you like spice, dice a hot pepper of your choice. Put all of these into your soup pot, add a sprinkling of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
You can add other sturdy vegetables too if you have them hanging around. If you want to add greens, you'll need to reserve them and wilt them in quickly at the end of cooking. One of the greatest things about a soup like this is that it can take practically anything you throw at it.
Next up: potatoes. I used yukon gold, but any boiling potato should be good here. Scrub your potatoes well and dice them into half-inch cubes. Add them to your softened aromatic veg. Season with pepper, red pepper flake, smoked paprika, thyme, sage, and marjoram, stir everything together, and cook for another five minutes or so.
Now is the time to add your strained broth. You'll want to add at least four cups or so, or enough to cover all your vegetables by a finger's width; top it up with water if necessary. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until your potatoes are cooked through. This should take about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your potato pieces.
When your potatoes are tender, pull the pot off the heat and puree your soup to the texture of your choice using an immersion blender. Then return the pot to the heat, taste and correct the seasonings, and continue to simmer gently until your soup has reduced to your desired texture.
Add the milk, cream, or yogurt of your choice off the heat, or even to individual bowls. I kept the main body of the soup creamless since I wanted to freeze it; if you do this, which I definitely recommend for future ultra-fast and delicious meals, you can just add your dairy at the end of a simple reheat. Super easy.
Hooray! It's soup! Garnish each bowl with parsley and serve a giant crispy salad on the side.
What ridiculously inappropriate food are you eating lately?