With St. Patty’s day coming up, I’ve been in an Irish kind of mood. To completely stereotype, that means potatoes. So I got a bag of red, white and purple potatoes at Trader Joe’s, figuring I’d find a use for them, and the leeks at Ralphs completed the vision. But which recipe? Emeril and I have had our differences in the past – I think his recipes, if followed to the letter, tend to be too heavy on butter and cream, and a bit bland (sorry Emeril!). But then I saw his recipe for Potato Leek Soup, and I found a lot of things I like: white wine, bacon, fresh thyme. And found things I didn’t like: a lot of butter and cream. Which I removed. And here is the result.
Think of a great baked potato – what do you put on there? Sour cream, bacon bits, chives? A bit of salt and pepper? Now take that baked potato stacked with everything good on it, and blend the hell out of it. That’s kind of what this soup is, and it is just ridiculously good. Like, 4-Star restaurant quality good. My boyfriend went back for seconds (this never happens), and he doesn’t even like creamy soups. Granted, I didn’t tell him that his hated sour cream was in there…
• 1 large leek
• 2 bay leaves
• Twists of black and white pepper to taste (the combo really adds to the flavor, so I used a lot)
• 8 sprigs fresh thyme, de-leafed or chopped fine
• 2 strips bacon, chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
• 3 cups chicken stock
• 1 pound potatoes, chopped into quarters (if small potatoes like red or white, don’t bother peeling)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 Tb light sour cream (or one very heaping spoonful)
Chop the potatoes into quarters and microwave for 6 minutes until you can easily punch them through with a fork. Set aside.
Chop the 2 pieces of bacon into small pieces and start cooking them in an ungreased non-stick pot. The bacon has its own grease, it doesn’t need any more.
Chop the leek, or leeks if small, finely in quarters, going all the way from the white tip to where they just start to turn green. Discard the long green leafy parts. NOW, rinse the chopped leeks in a colander. Dirt gets trapped in between the leafs and will not wash out if you rinse the leek before you chop.
Add the leaks to the pot when the bacon has already browned. Add the bay leaves, thyme, white and black pepper, and garlic. Cook around 5 minutes.
Now add the wine, stir a bit, and add the potatoes and 3 cups chicken stock. Let simmer for anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes – if you need more time to set the table or get sides ready, go ahead and let it simmer away.
Use a potato masher to mush the potatoes. Add the 2 Tb, or giant heaping spoonful (to taste, can you tell?) of the light sour cream. Mix.
Now, TASTE. Too salty? Not salty enough? Does it need more white pepper? (yes, imo) When I was tasting, it needed more salt – after I added salt, it was too salty, so I added water. The point is, keep tasting until you get it right. The rest of cooking is just a shopping list.
If you have an immersion blender, it’s time to whip it out and whip it good. You can just blend everything in the pot (be sure all the action is below the surface of the liquid). If you have a regular blender – I wish you luck. The last time I tried to blend soup in a blender, I ended up wearing scalding hot crème of watercress. User error yes, but I still have never forgiven that soup.
To be fancy, you can put a little dollop of sour cream on top of the finished bowl of soup. But, it smelled so good that I didn’t want to spend the time trying to be fancy myself. Hence the hastily taken picture.