|Creamy Leek and Potato Soup|
|Why was I afraid of a leek?|
I decided to start out with a Leek and Potato soup. First I researched my favorites-- a little Julia, a little Ina and a dash of Emeril. All of them have much to say on the subject of leeks -- Julia doesn't saute' them first in any fat, but simply boils the leeks and vegetables in water. Ina and Emeril both added different amounts of chicken stock and water. Emeril kicked his up with spices, but I wanted a more traditional flavor. However, they all agreed on one point -- YOU'VE GOT TO WASH THEM WELL!! This is REALLY important, as the leeks hold lots of sand and dirt between their layers. I decided to do it by removing the tough outer, dark green leaves, cutting off the top couple of inches (also tough and darker green) and then cutting off an inch at the root. I sliced them into rounds about 1/4" thick, like this:
|1 lb leeks and my handy food scale|
Creamy Leek and Potato Soup or Vichyssoise
1 lb. leeks, well washed and drained (about 3 large leeks)
1 lb peeled russet potatoes, cut into chunks for cooking
|Frying Smithfield Original Bacon|
3 rashers "Smithfield" original bacon
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T. butter
6 c. chicken stock
4 c, water
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. heavy cream + a little for garnish
chives for garnish
In a large, heavy soup pot, cook the bacon over low to medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and drain it well on a paper towel. Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pot and then the leeks. Cook them for 5 minutes until they begin to wilt and add the potatoes and garlic. Stir all the vegetables around in the pot until they are coated with the butter/fat mixture.
|Leeks and potatoes in the fat mixture|
|Partially covered soup pot|
Watch it, you don't want it to boil over, just to gently bubble away. Lower heat worked fine on my gas stove. At the end of 1 hour, test your potatoes by sticking them with a knife to make sure they are tender. You may need to cook the soup another 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the size you cut the potatoes during the prep. When the potatoes are done and the soup is thickened, you'll need to puree your veggies.
There are several ways to process the vegetables. I used my immersion blender, which is super easy to do. Let the soup cool a little before you start, put the immersion blender into the pot and begin blending in short bursts. You want the soup to be smooth and creamy. You could also use a regular blender. Simply remove the potatoes and leeks (in batches) with a slotted spoon and puree them, then return them to the broth. You could run the vegetables through a food processor or a food mill. Whichever method you use, let the soup cool slightly before pureeing, to minimize the chance of getting splashed by boiling liquid or super hot vegetables.
After the vegetables have been processed and returned to the soup, add the cream. Turn the heat on low to gently heat the cream and soup. Crumble the bacon and add it to the soup. Be careful not to let it boil. Taste the mixture and correct the seasoning -- you might need a little more salt or pepper, depending on the chicken stock you used. I always use lower sodium chicken stock and sometimes do need to add a little more salt at the end. Be careful, it's better to under-salt a dish than to over-salt one! This will make at least 6 bowls of soup. Garnish the soup with a tablespoon of cream and some chives. To make Vichyssoise-- that American invention we think is French -- simply cool the soup and serve it cold. We ate it one night for dinner, along with spinach salad. The rest made it's way to several delicious lunches and yes, one of the lunches I ate it cold. I knew I couldn't sell it to my husband, but I liked it just fine.