Potato Leek Soup

When the days are rainy and gloomy, there are a few choices to be made. You could huddle over your blue light box and sob uncontrollably until the sun comes out again in July, oooooor you could try to make the best of it by making warm, comforting soups that always taste even better after you’ve come inside and shed the wet rain coat and boots and maybe had a mug of coffee or hot tea. This potato leek soup is one I’ve been making for awhile, but I usually never measure my ingredients. This means that once you’ve got down the basics, a pot of soup is normally pretty forgiving so you can add or subtract things as you desire. Love garlic? Add more.  Don’t have any vampires to ward off? Add less.  Hate leeks? Use yellow onion….etc etc. 

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp butter

2 medium-size leeks, white and light green part only

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1 ½ in pieces

2 cups less-sodium chicken broth or water

2 cups whole milk

salt and pepper to taste

garnishes: crumbled crispy bacon, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, chopped chives

This is what happens when you photograph on the floor.

A word about leeks: Cut off the root end of the leek and then cut again between the light green portion and the dark green stalk. Discard the dark green stalk, and peel off the outer layer of the remaining white/light green portion of the leek (The outer layer can get tough). Slice the leek into quarters lengthwise and then dice them. Also, they are diiiirty. They can have sand & grit trapped inside the little rings, which is not the flavor of soup we’re shooting for here, so I always swish the chopped leeks around in a bowl full of water to loosen any dirt before I lift out the leeks, leaving the dirt behind in the bottom of the bowl.

In a large pot (6 qt is the size I used), melt the butter over medium heat, then add the leeks. The goal is to soften them, not brown them, so turn the heat to medium-low. Add the minced garlic and stirring occasionally, continue to cook the leeks until soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and the chicken broth or water and some salt (I added 1 tsp kosher salt at this stage), and turn up the heat again to medium so the liquid starts to come to a boil before you turn it back down to medium-low so the soup will simmer rather than boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. I like to have soups with at least some texture to them, so I don’t puree this soup; rather, I use my potato masher to mash it up until it reaches a thicker consistency with small pieces of potato still visible.

Heat up the milk (either in a small saucepan or in a measuring cup in the microwave) until almost boiling. The reason for this is if you add cold milk to a very hot liquid, chances are high the milk will curdle. It won’t ruin the taste of your soup, but it will look a little funny. Add the milk to the pot, then add more salt to taste (I added about ½ tsp more) and a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper.

Sprinkle the chopped chives on top.  Either eat it this way and be perfectly happy with it, or if you’re concerned it doesn’t have enough calories, top it with crumbled cooked bacon and/or shredded sharp cheddar. It’s ok, I won’t judge.