Friday, March 2, 2012

Smoky Potato Leek Soup

Hard to believe we now have 300 posts, but no potato leek soup! This soup is almost elemental in its simplicity, and is unparalleled for winter-time comfort (and thrift). My version includes bacon and omits cream. Cream has a way of killing flavor--but you can stir in a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche at the end for contrast.

Delicious with cheesy toast!

1/2 lb. bacon, diced
1 stick butter, divided
4 leeks, washed and chopped
3 russet potatoes, peeled
1 large rutabaga, peeled
6-8 c. chicken stock or water
1/2 c. vermouth, divided
fresh ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. rosemary
lots of salt
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
fresh parsley, minced

Begin by frying the bacon in half the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot (or pressure cooker) with a pinch of red pepper flakes. When it is just starting to crisp, deglaze the bottom of the pot with half of the vermouth and reduce the heat.

Meanwhile, clean the leeks by cutting off most of the dark green parts and the bottom roots. Slice them lengthwise and wash each leaf under running water to remove grit. Bundle them and slice crosswise into 1/4" pieces.

Add the chopped leeks and a pinch of salt to the fried bacon and cook, stirring, until the leeks soften. Chop the potatoes and rutabagas into large chunks and put them in the pot. Add the stock, remaining vermouth, and some black pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour (or pressure cook for 25 minutes).

When the potatoes are fall-apart soft, remove from heat and blend with an immersible blender to desired chunkiness. Season with remaining butter, more salt and pepper, and add a small dash of vinegar to taste. Garnish with minced parsley and crème fraîche.

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