Ahh, potato leek soup. A delicious fall staple that serves as a perfectly seasonal and hearty dinner on nights when a frosty chill dominates the air. As far as soup is concerned, the recipe couldn’t be easier to execute with success. The leeks impart a luscious and gentle oniony flavor and obtain a texture like velvet when cooked down low and slow. Potatoes serve as the starchy richness which thickens the soup to the perfect texture, thick without being a pureed baby food-like consistency. These two vegetables with their rich, earthy flavors don’t require a lot of fussing over in order to allow them to shine. And it’s a most delicious use for the abundance of potatoes and leeks in CSA shares at this point in the season. All you need is a good hunk of crusty bread and this soup can serve as a lovely lunch, first course or dinner itself!
Additionally, this soup can easily be transformed into a vegetarian/vegan delicacy with no compromise in quality making it a delightfully versatile recipe to have in your rolodex. To make this soup vegetarian, simply swap the chicken stock for a good quality vegetable broth and leave the bacon off of the top. To make it vegan, substitute the chicken stock for vegetable, the butter for vegan butter or olive oil and coconut milk in place of the cream and, of course, leave off the bacon! (You could always make smoky mushroom “bacon”!! That’s right, mushroom “bacon”, recipe here: Shiitake Bacon)
A nearly endless array of garnishes can find themselves adorning this liquid masterpiece. I chose to up the umami notes so I went with some crispy peppered bacon, bacon fat and fried garlic chips as well as some homemade creme fraiche (recipe included) for extra creaminess and temperature contrast as it came straight from the fridge. However, mushroom “bacon”, perhaps some scallion for a fresh onion flavor, crispy garlicky croutons, fried shallots, sour cream, fresh herbs, etc would be lovely choices as well. The list of possibilities is nearly endless so have fun with it and top it with your favorite flavor boosters!
Potato Leek Soup
- 2 medium sized leeks, trimmed, halved and rinsed, then sliced
- 3 medium sized butter potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups good chicken stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon each fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, finely minced
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Garnishes:
- 2 slices bacon, cut into lardons
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- dollop of homemade creme fraiche
In a pot over medium heat, add the butter, leeks and carrot and saute until the leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and season liberally with salt. Deglaze the pot with the sherry vinegar and stir to coat.
Add the diced potatoes to the pot, season with a little more salt and pour in the chicken stock. Raise your heat to medium high and bring this mixture to a boil. Test the potatoes for fork tender doneness, they should be just underdone at this point. Once the mixture boils the potatoes should only need a few more minutes.
At this point, lower the heat to a simmer and add the herbs, mustard powder, cayenne and cream. Simmer for another 5-8 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender soft and even falling apart a bit. Remove to a blender and blend on high with the smaller cap from the lid removed and covered with a kitchen towel to prevent any hot soup explosions or you can hit it with a stick blender to make your life a little easier, just make sure you remove from the heat while blending.
If you used a blender, return the soup to the pot and place on a medium flame to reheat. In the meantime, prepare your garnishes. In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the lardons of bacon until crispy and rendered of their fat. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the garlic to the hot bacon fat and swirl the skillet until the garlic is fried and golden brown, also remove to the paper towel lined plate. Turn the heat off reserving the bacon fat in the warm pan until it’s time comes.
To finish the soup, ladle into bowls and dollop the creme fraiche straight into the middle. Evenly distribute the crispy bacon and garlic chips over top and crack on some black pepper. Drizzle a little bit of the hot bacon fat over the soup and last but not least add a spoon to the equation. Swirl everything in and get ready to feel the warm, comforting embrace of some most delicious potato leek soup.
Cheers and enjoy! Happy fall!
In a mason jar, fill 3/4 of the way with heavy cream. Top off the jar with buttermilk and allow to sit out on the counter, unrefrigerated, overnight or for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the creme fraiche should be set and have the consistency of a thick sour cream. Transfer the jar to the fridge and enjoy on anything and everything!