Monday, January 26, 2009

Pureed Potato-Leek Soup

I love baked potato soup, and I indulge when we’re eating out, but I generally don’t make a lot of heavier soups at home. The hubby and I aren’t fans of cream soups or chowders; I’m definitely a broth soup kind of gal. But I saw this recipe in a Rachael Ray cookbook and wanted to try it, because it’s more of a broth-based potato soup. So you can save your calories for the toppings – which are the best part, anyway.

This recipe calls for leeks, which are kind of like green onions on steroids. I found this bunch of leeks at my local grocery store.

They cost $12. I went back to the store to ask if they REALLY cost $12. Because I could buy a whole lotta green onions for $12. The nice people at the store agreed and gave me $8 back. Mama always said, don’t buy no $12 leeks. (This is a lie. My mother never said anything even remotely like that.) In other words, try for the leeks, if you can. But if leeks aren't available or are prohibitively expensive, you could probably use a combination of green onions and yellow onions and still get a similar flavor.

If you've never worked with leeks, they're such fun, in a very dirty sort of way. To prepare the leeks, you’ve first got to trim them of their tops and bottoms – which is most of the leek. (I hope you didn’t pay by the pound.)

Then slice each in half, lengthwise. Now you can see the many layers that make up the leek. When the leeks grow, dirt gets caught in all these layers.

You want to remove this before cooking your leeks. I would assume, anyway; maybe you like a little dirt in your soup.

To me, the easiest way to do this is to chop up your leeks, drop them in a big bowl of water, and swish them around so the dirt falls out and settles on the bottom of the bowl.

(By the way, aren’t these coolest bowls ever? I got them from my mom for Christmas. I love them. And they’re made of 100% recycled material, so I’m a better person, now, too.)

Then you can remove the leeks from the bowl and let them dry a bit on paper towels before using them.

Despite my Fun with Leeks, the hubby was not at all interested in the soup. He said that I might as well serve him … well, it’s something I would never, ever do in a bowl. I didn’t take it personally. I just brought home some spicy tuna rolls to keep him happy. It worked; he volunteered for camera duty.

Pureed Potato-Leek Soup
Serves 4

8 slices bacon, chopped
3 leeks, chopped and cleaned
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 Tbsp. paprika
Salt and pepper
4 lbs. potatoes (preferably russets), peeled and chopped
6 c. chicken broth
Dash of Tabasco
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 green onions, chopped

1. In a large pot, heat bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel.

2. Add leeks and garlic to the pot.

Ooh, action shot.

3. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

Yes, I accidentally left a few pieces of bacon in there. I was in a hurry.

4. Add the thyme, paprika, and some salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and broth. Turn heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 8-10 minutes.

5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree.

6. Add hot sauce, and then add salt and pepper to taste. (I added a LOT of salt, especially since my broth didn’t have any.)

7. Serve with cheese, green onions, reserved bacon, and crackers.

Mmm … bacon …

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