Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Leek and Potato Soup

More than anything else. I think of this blog as a book for my "children". They are in their 20s now so put the word in scary quote marks.... scary for me, not for them, hopefully.

I write this so they will have in words some recipes and photographs from this wonderful life I have been living. This is a post about leeks and a soup I love to make and eat.

If you have read any previous posts about leeks, you must know how chuff I feel about growing these marvelous onions. I have tried the conventional yellow and purple and white onions but, like my luck with figs, I am the only person in SELA who can't seem to grow them. Leeks, I do just peachy with for some reason or another and I really get smug when I have grown them from seeds. Other times, I have found a grow-pot at Lowes with leeks and just gone that route. It is not the easiest thing to seed them at just the opportune time for good growth transplant.

Now, check out these babies:

These have had the roots and crown cut away, and slit down length-wise to facilitate cleaning, and are ready to be chopped into 1/4" slices. I stop right where the white turns light green and I dump them in a large bowl and rinse cold water in.

This allows the onion layers to swell and let any grit rinse out. You don't want anything like that in a great soup.

Now I remove 3-5 outer leaves and keep the lower part (see where I am pointing? That is the keeper, the others on the upper left is tossed)

and toss them on the compost pail and continue chopping and rinsing. You will always find more dirt and grit in this area because of the way leeks grow in soil. I goo almost to the tips of the greens, especially if they are still bright and tender.

See the dirt? You definitely don't want that!

These I put in a separate bowl, usually one with a white interior so I can really see the dirt well. Get it all cleaned out. Rinse rinse rinse. Trust me.... dirt can hide very well, thank you!

Now at this point if you have more leeks than you want to use, parboil them and freeze in small freezer bags for future use. When you grow these beauties, this is an awesome onion to have on hand for quiches, stews and spaghetti sauce.

On to the soup!

3-4 large leeks, cleaned as I have described so thoroughly above
2 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large soup pot

Saute the leeks until they have softened and add

4 large white potatoes, peeled and chopped into good-sized chunks. Russets are good, yukon golds add a buttery flavor that I like. You can use reds as well.

4-6 cups of chicken stock (I use the granules unless I happen to have canned stock on the shelf.)

White pepper and more salt if you really think you need it. Now let it simmer for 25 minutes and voila!

I say "if you really need salt" because bouillon cubes are heavy-salt and some people use salted butter. I always buy unsalted but I think I am strange about this. I usually wait til the end of cooking and taste the liquid.

If you want to thicken the soup, crush some of the cubed potatoes. They are a natural thickening agent and help eliminate the need for high-calorie flour or cream. This trick also helpes thicken beans... mash a half a cup of them and stir into a pot of beans for instant thick 'gravy'.

Here you can see the ratio of leeks to potato. Obviously, that can be reversed if you so choose. Me, I like the onion.

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