Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Garlic-Potato Soup

I am officially declaring this "Soup Week."  The Discovery Channel has "Shark Week," think of it like that--only more delicious.  

January feels like the right time for such a thing as "Soup Week" since right about now we long for cozy foods.  And speaking of cozy, I think this soup might just be the big comfy sweater of soups.  It is thick and comforting, hearty but not overwhelming.  The garlic is not at all overpowering but instead lends a complex and deeply layered flavor to this potato soup.  

 I made the vegetarian version of this recipe but I can't wait to try it again with the chicken broth variation as the recipe's source (Cook's Illustrated, one of my most favorite recipe resources!) says that it is even more delicious made with chicken broth (hard to imagine for as much as we liked the vegetarian version).  I might also be tempted to top a non-vegetarian version of this soup with some cheese and bacon bits and turn it into a baked potato soup but the garlic chips and chives are a lovely garnish as well!
Garlic-Potato Soup (with make ahead variation)

Soup Base
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 medium leek , white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped small (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 heads garlic , rinsed, papery skins removed and top third of heads cut off and discarded
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 pound Red Bliss potatoes (unpeeled), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups

For Reheating Soup
1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh chives

Garlic Chips
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic , sliced thin lengthwise
table salt

1. TO MAKE SOUP BASE: Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add leeks and cook until soft (do not brown), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add garlic heads, 6 cups broth, bay leaves, and 3/4 teaspoon salt; partially cover pot and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very tender when pierced with tip of knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Add potatoes, partially cover pot, and bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat. Take pot off heat and let rest 10 minutes. Separate soup into 2 storage containers and freeze up to 1 month.

  1. 2. TO REHEAT AND SERVE: Run hot water over surface of storage containers to help release frozen blocks of soup. Add soup and 1 cup broth to large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soup is hot and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Remove garlic heads; using tongs or paper towels, squeeze garlic heads at root end until cloves slip out of their skins. Using fork, mash garlic to smooth paste in bowl.
  2. 3. Stir cream, thyme, and half of mashed garlic into soup; heat soup until hot, about 2 minutes. Taste soup; add remaining garlic paste if desired. Using immersion blender, process soup until creamy, with some potato chunks remaining. Alternatively, transfer 1 1/2 cups potatoes and 1 cup broth to blender or food processor and process until smooth. (Process more potatoes for thicker consistency.) Return puree to pot and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve, sprinkling each portion with chives and garlic chips.
  3. For Garlic Chips
    Heat oil and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning frequently, until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to plate lined with paper towels; discard oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

    Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated

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