Creamy Potato & Leek Soup

A handful of years ago I was at a wedding that served a Cream of Potato & Leek soup as part of the meal. It’s one of the most memorable food items I’ve ever had at a wedding… maybe the most memorable. It was delicious – thick and hearty, creamy, and full of flavor. The leeks imparted a mellow flavor reminiscent of an onion, but not nearly as strong or overpowering, and the taste of potato really shined through. I’ve been dreaming of that soup ever since, and keep making mental notes to look for a recipe so I could try to recreate it. Well, it’s been almost five years, so I’d say that my statute of limitations was almost up, and I finally hunkered down to make a version of cream of potato and leek soup. It’s just as delicious as I remember it, and I love that I can now have it anytime at home, without being reduced to just daydreaming about it!

Of all the potato and leek soup recipes that I found I loved this one most for two reasons:

#1: It is creamy; and
#2: There is not any cream in the recipe.

Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? The creamy texture is achieved by adding a slice of dried out bread (torn into pieces) into the soup and then ultimately pureeing everything together in the blender. The flavors blend beautifully and the bread helps to give it a thickness that otherwise would need heavy doses of cream to achieve. I love how healthy that makes this soup!

The original recipe calls for chicken broth, but as a general rule of thumb, I use vegetable broth for any soup or dish that doesn’t include meat to begin with. This has become a habit since my sister became a vegetarian; I like to make sure that if something doesn’t have meat in it then mere broth won’t keep her from eating it. (The one exception to this rule is French Onion Soup!)

Have you ever eaten something at a function that you just can’t stop thinking about?!

One year ago: Butternut Squash Soup
Two years ago: How to Roast Garlic
Three years ago: Wendy’s Copycat Chili
Four years ago: The Perfect Omelet

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Creamy Potato & Leek Soup

Ingredients:

4 medium leeks, white and light-green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups), dark green parts halved, washed, and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon salt

1 small russet potato (about 6 ounces), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 bay leaf

1 (4-inch) sprig fresh thyme or tarragon

1 large slice white sandwich bread, lightly toasted and torn into 1/2-inch pieces

Ground black pepper


Directions:

1. Bring dark-green leek pieces, broth, and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; set aside. Discard solids in strainer and rinse out saucepan.


2. Melt butter in now-empty saucepan over medium-low heat. When butter foams, stir in sliced leeks, onion, and salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.


3. Increase heat to high, stir in reserved broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add toasted bread and simmer until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.


4. Remove and discard bay leaf and herb sprig. Transfer half of soup to blender and process until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Return soup to saucepan and bring to simmer over medium-low heat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish and serve.


Note #1: If you have an immersion blender, you can use that to puree the soup directly in the pot.


Note #2: Use the lowest setting on your toaster to dry out the bread without overbrowning it.


Note #3: Garnish ideas - garlic croutons, fried leeks, or a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of chives (shown).


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(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)


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