potato leek soup

A steaming bowl of potato & leek soup keeps the winter chill at bay

We are soup people. Some people go crazy over cheese or bacon, bread or maybe sweets…but we love soup. I learned my love of soup in a home where we would consume the equivalent of our body weight in soup almost daily. It was easy, since there were endless variations each more delicious than the next. The family joke growing up was that my dad had the ability to eat a bowl of boiling-out-of-the-pot soup in 15 seconds flat without sustaining any permanent damage. His mouth was, apparently, made of asbestos…but don’t try this at home. He was a trained, professional soup eater.

I have definitely passed on the family tradition of revering soup. There is something quite rebellious about enjoying spoonful after spoonful of hot liquid in a country where most of the local food is eaten with your fingers and often while sitting in your vehicle. Soup, on the other hand, is the ultimate slow food: it is hard to transport, almost impossible to eat without utensils, has a long list of ingredients that require careful preparation and the “5 second rule” just does not apply to it should you inadvertently spill it on the ground. You tip that bowl and it’s gone.

From the long list of soups that we now enjoy at home, this potato and leek combination is one of the favorites. It is so easy to make and to store. You can always make a large batch and put some away in your freezer for later use. Even better, you can top it with almost anything (we prefer oven baked crispy croutons made with olive oil) and each time you’ll have a slightly different experience.

The ingredients are very affordable and easy to get year round. In fact, there is a delightful chilled version of this soup that you can even enjoy in the middle of the summer. Go ahead and substitute the dairy for an alternate type of milk and the recipe easily becomes vegan should you desire to lighten it a bit. It is practically impossible to flub this soup and yet, the result always looks sophisticated.

Silky Potato & Leek Soup

4 medium size Yukon gold potatoes
2 medium leeks w/ most of the green tops
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup organic half & half
Pinch sea salt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth (homemade is best. Otherwise, Imagine Low Sodium is great)

Wash the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Cut the leeks lengthwise and soak in water to remove every trace of dirt hiding in between the leaves. I like to use part of the green stalks so a good wash is in order. I feel they enhance the flavor, color and nutritional value of the soup. Once clean, cut the leeks into small pieces. Bring the broth to a boil and add the potatoes, leeks and bay leaf into the pot. Cover and let simmer until the potato has softened. Drizzle in the olive oil and add all the spices. At this time, take some of the broth out of the pot and into a bowl and mix with the half & half. Return the liquid mix to the pot and stir well. After the soup has simmered for another 5 minutes, remove the bay leaf and carefully ladle it into a blender. Blend until completely smooth and return to the pot. Depending on your desired consistency, you can add a bit of broth or milk at this time. Serve while piping hot and top with anything your heart desires…

PS: Try new flavors by substituting the leeks for parsnips or perhaps just add a peeled apple to the original recipe…So good!