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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leek Potato Soup

Let's talk about leeks for a moment, shall we?  Leeks are the lesser-known member of the Allium family, aka the onion and garlic family. Leeks have a mild onion-like taste and they are less bitter than scallions. The taste might be described as a mix of mild onion and cucumber. It has a fresh smell similar to scallions. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm.  The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk.

One evening Chris and I were watching an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network.  The show was called Sprung a Leek.  I will admit, I had seen leeks at the store before, but never actually tried them.  Both Chris and I were intrigued by his recipe for leek rings.  He explained that leeks didn't get as slimey as onions when battered and fried.  He made them look so yummy!  So the next time we were at the store, we picked up some leeks and headed home to give it a try.  We were instant addicts :)

Along with the leek rings, he also made a Leek Potato Soup.  I really didn't think that I would ever actually make it, but the other day when I was trying to figure out a soup to make (the weather was cold and rainy..soup weather for sure) I stumbled across this recipe.  I'm so glad I finally made it.  It was so delicious and warming.  Nice and creamy with a hint of the onion and garlic flavor.  I added bacon to the recipe to add to the flavor and texture of the soup.  Did I mention it was delicious???  :)

Leek Potato Soup
Adapted from Alton Brown 
1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, about 4-5 medium leeks
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserving 1 Tbls of the grease
2 Tbls unsalted butter
Kosher salt
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tbls fresh chives or parsley (optional)

Chop the leeks into small pieces.

In a 6-quart saucepan or pot, over medium heat, add the bacon grease and the butter.  When the butter has melted, add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes.  Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. (do not let them burn)

Add the potatoes and the chicken broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on how big the potato pieces are.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. (if you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a may have to do it in batches)  Stir in the heavy cream and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.  Serve in bowls with bacon and chives as garnish.  Enjoy!

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