My appetite changes with the season. In the winter I appreciate things that warm you up and keep you warm. Like soup. In the summer, soup takes a back seat to pasta salads, potato salads, slaws, grilled meats and fresh fruit. A warm cup of soup on a winter day makes the transition from morning coffee to lunchtime that much easier. Yes. I use coffee to keep warm. Sometimes tea too.
There is something about a well-balanced soup that makes me smile on the inside. Over the years I’ve learned the importance of making my own soup. The ability to control the seasonings, the amount of salt and to add fresh vegetables makes each and every drop worth it in my book. It doesn’t hurt that it fills the house with wafts of its savory goodness as it simmers away the afternoon.
I hadn’t attempted a potato leek soup before now, mostly due to the fact that I don’t appreciate soup recipes that call for adding chicken stock or broth when there is no chicken in the soup. I’m big on making it from scratch, and adding chicken where there is no chicken or beef where there is no beef just doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps it’s the former vegetarian in me screaming to be let out. Plus, my freezer stash of frozen stocks and broths is gone. We haven’t had a whole chicken in quite a while. I should add that to this week’s menu. When I saw a recipe for potato leek soup on Food Woolf that started with nothing but leeks and water, I was instantly sold, with some tweaking, of course. I can never leave a recipe alone.
So, um, naturally, start by chopping three leeks. You could slice the stalk in half first to make moon shapes, but I find the circles to be appealing and, well, fun.
In a large stockpot over medium heat add a bit of olive oil. When it’s nice and hot, add the leeks.
Sauté for ten minutes until they are soft and sweaty.
And then add two cloves of garlic for good measure and sauté for 30 more seconds.
Pour in two quarts of agua.
Add in the green tops of the leeks to give it even more flavor. We’ll remove them later. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
After 30 minutes, remove the long green tops of the leeks, but don’t discard yet.
You could make a bouquet garni with the leek tops before they are simmered, but I didn’t have any issue using them post-simmer. In fact, I think they were easier to stuff full of thyme, peppercorns and bay leaves.
Secure the bouquet garni with some kitchen twine and toss it right into your simmering leeks.
Next to come to the party will be one and a half pounds of potatoes, the gold variety, peeled and diced. Add those to the pot as well
And now add a bit of white wine. I went with a pinot grigio because, well, we’d opened the bottle the night before and hadn’t finished it. All the more reason to cook with it.
And then continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender.
It took me about 45 minutes before I was really satisfied with my potato texture.
Find your friend, Mr. Heavy Whipping Cream. You really don’t need to add him, but why not? Okay. If you want, no cream. Go completely vegan and omit entirely, or you could try adding a bit of milk if you’re afraid of the extra calories and fat. I, obviously, am not. Bring on the cream.
And at this point you’re ready to season with a bit of salt and white pepper and hit the blender or the food processor.
Return to the stockpot and heat to desired temperature or store in a heat-proof container in the fridge or freezer until ready to heat and serve. When you’re done, you’ll have a thick and creamy soup, sure to warm you from the inside out.
And keep you warm as you wait for winter to turn to spring and spring to turn to summer.