The first of the recipe posts. As Cat pointed out, we have been talking about starting this blog for quite a while and it took her sending me a threatening email (including deadlines!) to actually get it started. Hopefully we can keep up the motivation. Now on to the deliciousness.
Denver is confused right now. One day it’s 75 and sunny, the next it snows 2 feet, then its 65 and sunny, and the next day it rains. I’m ready for BBQ weather….alas Denver is not. So, yesterday was a soup day.
I decided on an old classic – Potato Leek Soup. Most people have had it, it’s really basic, really hearty- and really cheap (I’m talking like less than 8 bucks a pot, people). The thing about potato leek soup is that it can be made a lot of different ways. My mom used to make hers chunky style, finished off with skim milk (I’m all for the low fat, but come on). My sister and her husband suggested the option of evaporated skim milk to help thicken it up a bit, and I thought it sounded like a good idea so I gave it a shot last night.
Here is the basic recipe:
3 Large leeks chopped into ½ in circles, only use the white and tender green portions
2 Tbs butter
2 C chicken broth
2 C water
3-4 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled, and diced into ½ inch pieces
1 tsp white pepper
2 tsp salt
1 can evaporated non fat milk
The great thing about this soup is that it is an easy, peasant style meal that can be prepared a million ways. Here is how I do it:
Leeks are dirty vegetables so I always chop them, place them in a bowl of cold water, separate all the rings, swirl them around a bit, and then let all the dirt settle while I prep the potatoes. You will be surprised how much dirt is left in the bottom of the bowl (this means you need to fish out your leeks to add them to the pot, don’t just pour them into a strainer or the dirt will stream back over them).
I start by melting the butter in my large enameled dutch oven (oh how I love it), then I add the leeks and let them cook on low heat until they’re tender. This is similar to caramelizing onions; you want to stir it frequently. You never want to brown the leeks; it’ll make them bitter if you do.
When the leeks look like this:
I add the spices, give it a little stir, then I toss in the potatoes, the chicken broth, and the water.
Then I cover the pot and let the potatoes cook until they are soft (about 20 mins).
This is the point where you have to decide if you want a chunky soup, a smooth soup, or a more broth-style soup. I chose somewhere in the middle. So I climbed to the top of my cabinets to retrieve my immersion blender (my kitchen is teeny tiny) and I blended some of it to the consistency of mashed potatoes, leaving some sizeable chunks of potatoes and leeks. You could also do small batches in a regular blender for this option.
Next I mixed in the evaporated milk and whisked it until combined.
The fun part about this soup is that it’s really basic, not to say it’s bland, just sort of like a blank canvas for a delicious treat. You can top this soup with just about anything: bacon crumbles, cheese, fried leeks, scallions, croutons, etc.
We decided on bacon crumbles (since my boyfriend is incapable of eating a meal without meat), shredded Colby jack cheese and some fresh ground pepper. About half way through the bowl I added a few dashes of Tabasco too- you really can add anything.