I haven’t met a potato soup I haven’t loved… at least not yet.. and I’ve had a lot of different potato soups… it seems potatoes, onions or leeks, bacon and stock or broth just make the best combination… everything else just makes it a little different than the next one…
I haven’t made a potato soup with leeks in a while and wanted to see what else is out there for recipes… I found one by Emeril that seemed a little different… it had the usual ingredients plus a ½ cup dry white wine… I thought… hmmm… that would be a nice little addition…
I was surprised there wasn’t a BAM! in this recipe…
The soup was excellent… but here are my thoughts on it…
First,the cream really can be left out.. I put it in.. but I don’t feel it adds that much in the way of flavor… it changes the texture… so you can consider adding less or substituting a lower fat milk or half and half would also lower the fat content.
Second… the wine… while it smelled fabulous when cooking.. by the time it was finished… I really don’t think the wine taste was apparent… I totally think it can be omitted if you want to.
Emeril has rather elaborate instructions on how to make a bouquet garni using a leek leaf… he does say you can use cheesecloth also… well first of all… if you need to know what a bouquet garni is.. I have a previous post on that subject… just click here… and you can read about it…
Now back to his bouquet garni… I really don’t think it’s necessary.. I put the bay leaves in the soup.. and fished them out just before blending the soup… I used dried thyme instead of fresh.. and the soup was really good… the conversion from fresh sprigs of thyme to dried thyme is one fresh sprig of thyme equals ½ teaspoon dried thyme… his recipe calls for 4 sprigs which converts to 2 teaspoons of dried thyme.. I think that is just a little too much… at least for our tastes… I used a heaping ½ teaspoon and that was about right.. as it is.. the soup ended up with a strong thyme flavor.
I think the cream ingredient is optional… cream adds a little smoothness to the soup but for those trying to lower the fat content in their diet… I really don’t see a problem with leaving it out.
I omitted the peppercorns.. the recipe also calls for ¾ teaspoon of white pepper… which in my opinion is more than enough.
Now I do have some tips…
He suggests using an immersion blender.. which I wholeheartedly agree with… if you don’t have one.. it’s well worth the investment… they’re not terribly expensive… for example.. Amazon has one by Cuisinart for $28.99 (US)… it saves loads of time and makes clean-up a snap… great for soups and gravies.
If you don’t own one.. you can use a regular blender… but only fill the blender half full … make sure the lid is on tight and put a dish cloth over the top before blending.. hot soup will have lots of steam when blending.. and you don’t want to get burned… if the top flies off… hot soup and steam will not only make a mess but is dangerous.
Definitely use the snipped chives on top.. they add a really pleasant, light onion flavor… a really good finish to the soup.
His recipe calls for russet potatoes… russets are very flavorful but I find they can be a bit grainy… I used Yukon Gold potatoes… we happen to like their flavor… I would recommend either Russets or the Yukon Golds… not white potatoes.. white potatoes don’t have as strong a flavor as the others do.
He used only the white parts of the leek, I used the white and green parts.
I used smoked bacon… it has a stronger flavor and really adds a lot to the soup.
I used a Sauvignon Blanc for the white wine… you can find very affordable ones… Turning Leaf, Beringer, Yellow Tail and Monkey Bay are all decent and inexpensive to use for cooking.
About the salt.. his recipe calls for 1 ½ teaspoons salt… I added the salt later…as the soup was finishing and added it to taste… because of the bacon.. I added very little… so I changed the recipe to add the salt at the end and to your taste.
If you decide to leave out the cream and not replace it with any other milk product… you will probably need to thin the soup a bit at the end… add more chicken broth or stock until you get the thickness you want.
So… with all that said… let’s get to cooking…
Recipe: Potato Leek Soup
All you need:
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips of bacon, chopped
1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound, cleaned and sliced
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
2 bay leaves
½ -1 teaspoon dried thyme (to taste)
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
5 cups chicken stock or broth
1 to 1 ¼ pounds potatoes, diced (see notes above)
¾ teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste
½ to ¾ cup crème fraiche or heavy cream (optional) -see notes above
2 tablespoons snipped chives
All you need to do:
Trim the very tops of the leeks. Using a sharp knife slice the leek down the middle lengthwise. Rinse thoroughly under cold running water to be sure you have all the dirt out between the leaves.
Slice the leeks thinly crosswise.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat, then add the chopped bacon. Cook until bacon has rendered most of the fat but is still soft. Stir frequently.
Add the leeks and cook until they’re wilted. Stir frequently.
Add the wine (if you are including it), bring to a boil.
Add the chicken stock, potatoes, white pepper, thyme and bay leaves.
Lower the heat to bring it to a simmer, cook until potatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup or use a blender. If using a blender, blend in small batches… see notes above on safety tips. Blend until desired consistency (I like it still a little lumpy).
Add the cream (if you are including it).
Adjust seasoning (salt, pepper and thyme).
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with snipped chives.
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