Monday, January 2, 2012

Soup Weather: Potato Leek

Winter isn't half over, and for many of us that means months to go of extreme weather conditions and bitingly cold temperatures. This is the time of year you'll hear the phrase "soup weather," spoken plaintively and sincerely. Indeed, warm liquids--particularly more hearty and nourishing fare like soup--are excellent balms to chapped hands and cold toes in this harsher season.

For me it was as much convenience as a desire to beat the cold that had me concocting a recipe for Potato Leek soup--one batch makes up to 10 servings, and I made this dish on the last day of the year, knowing I might not be in a mood to cook the next day. I cannot overlook that there were other factors that put me in mind of this particular soup, namely childhood nostalgia, and a love of the wild onion-y flavor of leeks, paired with the sweet, earthy starch of potatoes.

If you decide to puree your soup and are so inclined you could top your soup with a dollop of dill creme fraiche (mix 1 part chopped fresh dill to 3 parts creme fraiche).

Potato Leek Soup
Makes 8 - 10 servings

5 medium - large leeks, cleaned with the dark green parts discarded, sliced 1/2" thick
6 medium yukon gold potatoes, cut into roughly 1" cubes
1 small onion, julienned
1 quart organic vegetable or chicken broth
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced or put through a press
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, woody stems stripped off
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Teaspoon Salt, or more to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1 quart (4 cups) water
1 cup cream

1. Put your soup pot on the burner and turn it to medium, add butter and when the butter is melted, add leeks, onions, garlic, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Saute on medium heat until leeks are translucent, about 15 minutes.
2. Add cooking sherry and let cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Add potatoes, water and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for roughly 45 minutes, until the potatoes are soft enough to break apart with a nudge. Adjust for salt and pepper
4.Using a handheld mixer on low speed, or (once it's cooled down enough to handle) a food processor, puree the soup. If you'd rather go low-tech you can also force it through a fine mesh sieve instead. Add the cream, stir to incorporate and serve, garnished with a tiny pinch of thyme leaves.*

*Cook's note: I prefer mine not to be pureed, since I love the mouthfeel of the occasional soft potato and silky leek. For presentation's sake, you should know that if you choose not to puree your soup you may want to leave out the cream (this was my mother's method, growing up), as it will separate and look strange; however, it will still taste delicious, particularly if you stir the soup up before portioning it out. That being said the dill creme fraiche is quite strange as a condiment in non-pureed soup.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!


  1. I prefer mine not pureed either :)

  2. A woman after my own heart! On the plus side, adding cream to a non-pureed soup isn't nearly as bad as I make it sound and boy does it ramp up the flavor! :)