It’s 8 AM and I’ve already been up for two hours with my toddler, watching the dwindling snowfall from our foggy kitchen window. The kitchen is always about ten degrees colder than the rest of the house and my naked toes are turning blue. I close my eyes and drift off to somewhere warm. This is the first snowfall of the season. We have five more months of miserable weather ahead of us and I am already dreaming about staying warm.
My thoughts drift to hot food and drinks. Take soup, for example. Soup is a winter necessity. Cupping your hands around a hot mug of soup on a cold day is like slipping into a steaming outdoor Jacuzzi tub in the middle of winter. It warms you from head to toe.
My husband, as I’ve probably already mentioned, will try anything I put in front of him, but he always looks at me like I’ve just killed his puppy when I tell him we’re having soup for dinner. Now, soup is an extensive food category, so this confuses me. How can you hate all kinds of soup? Finally, he admits that soup, like green salads and vegetable tarts, is not dinner material. It’s not a “real” meal.
Ah…I finally understand. So, now I treat leek and potato soup like a velvety vegetable. Like drink-able, oniony mashed potatoes. Ok, so that sounded better in my head, but this soup is truly delicious. It’s also simple and fast, so there’s plenty of time to make something else to go with it.
To appease my husband, I like to go with the “lunch for dinner” theme and serve it with grilled cheddar and tomato sandwiches on thick white bread. If you’re going with a more seasonal approach, try grilling a baguette under a Panini stone with apples, brie, and fig jam. Either way, he’s satisfied, I’m satisfied, the kids eat everything on their plates, and we all stay warm on a cold winter night.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned, and sliced into small half-moons
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 cups of unsalted chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 grinds pepper
- ½ cup half and half
- additional salt and pepper to taste
- Put the butter into a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and stir occasionally until they soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the chicken broth and stir to combine. Cover and bring up to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and leeks are soft, about 15 minutes.
- At this point, you have a few options. You can put the vegetables and broth through a food mill. This handy contraption traps all of the leek fibers and other impurities, mashes the potatoes gently, and yields a smooth and velvety soup.
- This takes a little time and some elbow grease and unless you’re British, most home cooks don’t own one. Instead, I recommend the immersion blender. It’s a wand with a rotating blade at the bottom that you can just stick it into your soup pot and blend. Try to pulse the wand to break up the potatoes gently, in short bursts. If you over-blend, all of the potato cells will burst, releasing too much starch and making the soup gummy – this is the same reason why you should avoid blending the soup (or making mashed potatoes) in a food processor.
- Once the soup is blended, add the half and half and additional salt and pepper to your liking. If the soups is still too thick, add more chicken broth until it reaches the desired consistency.