Thursday, April 25, 2013

Potato Leek Soup

The picture doesn't do them justice... these leeks are so fresh they're practically talking smack to me! Though no "Yo Mama" jokes - since I'm their Mama. (That was terrible. Good thing I cook better than Tina Fey,  I'm never going to put her out of a job writing comedy.) This is about half of what we bought. I'm making two big batches of Potato Leek Soup. One for the TQS Parents Association's Special Friends Day luncheon tomorrow, and one just for my family, because they will stage a Kitchen coup d'etat if I dare feed others their favorite soup and neglect their own hungry mouths.

Look at them again, all trimmed up, after their 2nd washing: Aaaah, Food Pr()n! That's the money-shot, baby!

And again, finally a picture taken from INSIDE the Kitchen because it's breezy today and once they're chopped I didn't want a front lawn covered in Leek Confetti... which would totally happen to me. I am way too much of a klutz to go traipsing around tempting the gods to make my knee go just at that perfect leek-hurling moment.

You know why Potato Leek Soup is the most rocking soup for Springtime, ever? Because if it's freezing out (2 days ago, 34 degrees!) this soup warms your whole body, it's creamy warm potato goodness is a perfect backdrop for sprinkling on bacon or cheddar cheese or even a pat of herb butter. But, if you get a day where the temperature spikes up to the high 70's with 80% humidity (6 days ago!) a quick chill makes this lovely soup into an elegant, refreshing Vichyssoise, to be topped with fresh snipped chives, or caviar, or diced smoked salmon. Hot or cold, it works.

And the recipe is so easy to play with, it's impossible to mess up: you can double any ingredient to your own tastes and still have a delicious result at the end, it is entirely up to you if you like your soup lower calorie, or creamier, or thickened with more potatoes.

Which brings me to... the potatoes.

Oh, I guess you would probably like the RECIPE, too, one of these days, now that I've tortured you with all these photographs of ingredients,... sigh. Very well...

Potato Leek Soup
Makes 1 Large Pot - about 12 Servings

5-6 Medium Russet potatoes, peeled, halved
3-4 Medium Red potatoes, scrubbed, skin-on, diced 1/4 - 1/2” (any waxy potato will do – love Yukon Golds)
3 bunches of leeks, green ends cut off and discarded, roots trimmed, halved, washed, then sliced into half-moons through the fiber (like chopping celery). 
2 boxes (32 oz total) organic chicken stock
2 sticks butter
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup milk

Method for Crockpot
Put the potatoes, leeks, stock and butter into the crockpot and cook on low for 8+ hours, or High for 4+ hours, depending on your own crockpot’s “personality” – you just want the big potato halves to be cooked fully until soft, not so long as they start to dissolve.
About a half hour to an hour before serving, once the Russets are soft, use a slotted spoon and (in batches) transfer them into the blender, only fill it halfway with the potatoes (Because you are pureeing a hot item, always leave 1/2 of the carafe unfilled – hot liquid expands and can explode out causing burns.) Fill in a couple cups of the leek stock for liquid to get the mixture moving, and add some of the heavy cream and milk. Again… leave at least 1/2 of the carafe unfilled. You only want to puree maybe 3 seconds, as little as possible, or the starch in the potatoes will turn into glue. Dump the puree back in the pot and do the next batch – and for this, I just keep using the cream and the milk as the liquid. Leave the diced Red potatoes out of this – they are for people to enjoy as chunks in the soup.
 Once all the Russets are pureed, and back in the pot, give it a good stir, pour in any cream and milk you haven’t used, taste, then adjust the salt & pepper.

If you want to turn this into Vichyssoise, peel ALL the potatoes back in step 1, puree all the soup, then pass it through a mesh sieve, then quickly chill it in a metal bowl set over another metal bowl of ice, stirring constantly. Put in bowls and garnish with caviar, smoked salmon, prosciutto, or chopped fresh chives (or your own favorite fresh herb), or whipped herb cream. Hot or cold, this stays good in the fridge for a week, possibly 10 days, but it’s never lasted that long at our house. Enjoy!

Here are some of my tricks I do to make the soup better:
  • Start by pouring the stock in your pot, and then, as you peel and cut each of the Russet potatoes, drop them into the liquid. It will keep them from oxidizing (browning) as you work and make a more attractive soup later on. 
  • Never allow any potato eyes or black spots into anything you cook. Yuck.
  • Rinse the leeks in the colander again after they've been chopped, to make sure all of the sand is completely out. 
  • One single pound of leeks yields about 6 cups of chopped leeks, so if chopping up 3 bunches looks like leeks are taking over your kitchen, and you kinda have to stuff them into fitting the crockpot? You did it right. If you really can't fit them, save the extra, saute them gently in butter, and spread it over crusty bread. You're welcome.
  • Don't use the dark green part of the leeks, it turns the soup a dingy color
  • I was warned by 2 plumbers to always put the potato peelings and fibrous vegetable trim (like leek leaves) in the trash or compost, NOT down the Garbage Disposal. The soup tastes much better when you don't have a $150 plumber bill after making it. Needless to say, I actually listened after the second time I was told.
  • Don't add any Salt & Pepper until the very end, after you've added the heavy cream and pureed the potatoes - at different times of the year, the cream and potatoes are sweeter.
  • Yes, I really DO use that much butter and heavy cream. That's why it tastes so good. But you could, if you wanted to, use the Fat Free Half-n-Half instead. And cut it back to one stick of butter. But margarine or oil just won't cut it for this soup and still get as good results:

The Butter was nestled, all snug in its bed, while visions of Vichyssoise danced in my head.

Can I just make an observation of the difference between cooking and writing? - it takes WAY longer to write about making Potato Leek Soup than simply MAKING it. Granted, the CrockPot is likely to disagree with me, and give me dirty looks for saying that, since its been on duty for about 3 hours now. But really, it took only about 25 minutes to peel the potatoes, chop the leeks, wash everything, and clean up. The pureeing will take maybe 5 minutes. This is a soup that anyone can make, at any skill level, and get a great result.

So, that being said, I just took a whole day to write one blog post. Yikes! I may have to limit my Foodie Blogging to once a week.

That being said, here is the Beautiful Soup:

Beautiful Soup so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen
Who for such dainties would not stoop?

Soup of the evening,
Beautiful Soup.
Soup of the evening,
Beautiful Soup.

Beautiful Soo-oup
Beautiful Soo-oup
Soup of the evening Beauuuuuuuuuuuutiful Soo-oup!
Beautiful Soup.

Beautiful Soup, Who cares for fish,
Game or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?

Beautiful Soo-oup
Beautiful Soo-oup
Soup of the evening Beauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutiful Soo-oup!

Beauuuuuuuuuuutiful Soup..... Oops, sorry, got carried away.

Hehehe, and don't tell me that won't be stuck in your head every single time you make this soup. Forever. People all over the world will be singing Alice in Wonderland's Beautiful Soup, and the whole world will be a much happier place if they do!

Here is my Beautiful Potato Leek Soup, all dressed up and ready for dinner tonight. I'm afraid that the sun was already dipping behind the Oak tree, so the light was shaded through the leaves.

And here is my last picture, for the night, and for this post. The soup being quick-chilled:

Soup of the Evening.....Beautiful Soup!

No comments:

Post a Comment