It is a gloomy and yet warm December day here in Toronto. This December feels like November. Understandable, since November felt like October. Somebody is playing with the weather. I don’t think anyone is complaining though. I’m fine with it as well, as long as April won’t feel like March etc. Anyway, we are well into Soup Season by December. Which is funny, really, because many of us enjoy soup year round. Sure, the soups change with the seasons, but there is still…Soup. And of course I get it, Soup Season implies all the warm, stick-to-your-ribs, ‘just like Mom used to make’, ‘cure what’s ailing you’ soups. That classic Chicken Noodle soup, or Matzo Ball soup, Roasted Tomato, Minestrone, Cream of anything soup, Beef Barley soup…the list is endless. Those soups that are meant to cuddle you on a cold winter’s eve.
One of our family’s favourite soups is Leek and Potato. Early on I realized that caramelizing any veggie intensifies their flavours, as well as creates a superbly delicious crust. So pretty well any time I’m using veggies as the star of the soup, they’re getting roasted first. And these spuds are no exception. Roast potatoes are awesome all on their own, so in a soup, the soup can only get awesome-er, right?! And when you puree them all up, those crusty bits get blended into the velvetiness of the soup, and it just tastes so much better.
With a soup like this, with potatoes as the base, there is no need to add any cream to make it creamy. It can stand all on its own. And instead of just simmering the leeks in stock, I like to saute them up pretty good- it adds an extra texture. Play with the seasonings: I’ve kept it pretty classic with rosemary and thyme. But some heat, or even curry would work great instead. Make it your own. After making this so many times, I received the lovely idea of adding a little wine to the soup from Abigail of Abi’s Farmhouse Kitchen. Natural, since she is surrounded by wine on her winery Jealous. Thanks!! See, everything good can still be made even better. And enjoy the cuddle.
LUSCIOUS LEEK AND ROASTED POTATO SOUP
- 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes. This will be approximately 4 medium. Slice into 12 pieces
- 1 yellow onion , quartered
- 2 leeks , darker green removed, cut lengthwise, checked for any grit and then sliced into thin half moons
- 1/2-3/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
- 4 cups of vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you aren't aiming for a vegetarian dish)
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried if fresh is not available)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme , chopped
- kosher salt
- cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 375F
Place your sliced potato pieces (I've directed to cut each potato into 12 cubes, as this will create more surface area to caramelize and reduce the roasting time) and your quartered onion in a bowl. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, rosemary, approx 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
Lay out on a baking sheet and roast for approx 1/2 hour. The surfaces should be nicely browned, and the potato pieces just soft enough!
Remove and let cool.
Once cooler, add to a blender or food processor with 4 cups of stock, and puree until smooth.
In a med stock pot, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil over med-high heat. Add the leeks and saute till golden and just starting to crisp up, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the wine if using, to deglaze the pot, and add a lovely crispness to the flavours. Simmer 2-3 minutes.
Add the pureed potato mixture to the leeks. Warm through.
Add fresh, chopped thyme.
Re-season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with grilled bread or croutons. I like one larger piece of crusty bread, lightly oiled and grilled briefly to get the crisp on. Then cover each piece with grated gruyere (or cheese of choice) and put back under the broiler to melt the cheese.
If you use vegetable stock, this is a lovely vegetarian meal. However if you'd like to use chicken stock, this is great as well. And if you want to add cubed cooked kielbasa or smoked ham pieces, this would definitely make the soup more hearty.
How about switching up the seasonings? I've used the classic rosemary and thyme. But if you sprinkled the potatoes with curry and cumin before roasting, and then adding another tsp of curry or ground coriander to the leeks, this would definitely be amazing as well.
The wine is optional, but will add a lovely flavour, and cut through the richness of the soup.
If you find that the soup is too thick for your liking, just add some stock to thin to desired consistency. This may happen if there are leftovers and you take the container out of the fridge.