Sunday, October 17, 2010

Potato Leek Soup

Ok, so I was feeling a little self-conscious that I am posting a second soup recipe in a row, but for the sake of authenticity, and honesty, soup is what I've been cooking lately.  Hopefully, everyone else is in a soup mood like I am!  This is probably the simplest soup you can possibly make, but do not underestimate it.  Right now, I am reading the book "Julie and Julia" (yes, the same one as the movie--which I am not too proud to admit made me a little emotional) and a potato leek soup (potage parmentier--sounds so fancy in French, doesn't it?) is the first Julia Child recipe that the author, Julie Powell, records (and also inspiring her to cook through the entire cookbook in a year).  Clearly, such a humble soup is capable of powerful things!  And, an interesting tidbit, by the may have heard of potato leek soup being vichyssoise as well.  Traditionally, if the soup is served hot, it is potage parmentier and if it is served cold, it is vichyssoise.  Who knew?!?

Potato Leek Soup
2-3 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced into thin (1/4") rounds (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced into small pieces
4 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, divided
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chives, snipped into tiny pieces (optional for garnish)

Since leeks are very sandy, so make sure to clean them thoroughly before beginning.  Put the sliced rounds into a large bowl filled with cold water.  Using your hands, separate the rounds into rings.  The grit and dirt should separate out and fall to the bottom, then you can lift the floating leek pieces out and dry on a towel.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until becoming translucent and beginning to soften.  Add potatoes and chicken broth.  Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low/medium-low and cover.  Simmer until potatoes and leeks are very tender (15-20 minutes).  Using an immersion blender (or just transfer the soup to a regular blender, but be really careful, it's hot!  If using a regular blender, make sure to keep a towel and a firm grip on the top of the blender when pureeing because the hot soup can shoot up and make a big, burning mess--not that I'm talking from experience or anything...), puree soup until smooth.  If you prefer a more "rustic style," you could certainly just mash the potatoes and leeks with a potato masher instead.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the Greek yogurt and whisk until smooth.  Ladle into bowls (or cute mugs, as pictured).  Garnish with additional dollop of yogurt and snipped chives. 

Note: feel free to substitute sour cream for Greek yogurt if that is more accessible.  Also, if you don't care for the subtle tang that the yogurt/sour cream version would provide, you can use heavy cream, half and half or canned evaporated milk instead, just skipping the garnish.

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