Monday, October 10, 2011

The Infamous Potato Leek Soup

I'm so disappointed. I haven't blogged all summer long and at first I was really hard on myself. Then I realized that I had 2 boys demanding my attention all hours of the day, swimming lessons all summer long, and various sports clinics for my eldest son to attend. Man, summer was busy and by the time the evening rolled around I was far too bushed to blog. Well, guess what? It's fall and the boys are in school and theoretically I have time to blog now. Yippee!
For those of you who haven't noticed I tend to cook with the seasons. Since fall has arrived I have been craving roasted meats, root veggies and soups. My absolute favorite introduction to the autumnal season is potato leek soup. It is one of the few recipes that is completely of my own creation in that I have been perfecting it for almost 5 years.
Over the years I have tried various variations of potato leek but have never been quite satisfied. I've tried it hot, cold, luke warm, with stock, without, with wine, and have used various fresh or dried herbs. Blah, blah, blah. About 1 year ago I finally perfected it to my liking. For me this is the true beauty of cooking. Finding what works for you.
I really couldn't care less what Martha Stewart or The Barefoot Contessa think is a good recipe. I care what I like and what my family will eat. I also care what won't give me hives or intestinal upset. You see, sadly I suffer from lactose intolerance and cannot ingest MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), nitrites or nitrates. Thankfully I am not gluten intolerant and eat all the bread and pasta I desire. However, in this soup recipe there is absolutely no gluten. However, be careful to check any store bought products for use in this recipe. Stock, for example, can be a culprit. I usually make my own so this is no problem.
Now, after my long winded introduction here is my favorite potato leek soup recipe. I hope you enjoy it but feel free to add your own additions. This, after all, is what makes cooking fun, enjoyable, creative and entertaining.

Potato Leek Soup
*1 stick butter
*2 tbsp. olive oil
*4 cups washed or 6 med. leeks
*Dry white wine (Fume or Sauvingon Blanc, Dry Riesling) for deglazing
*2 lbs. potatoes (4 lrg. russet)
*1 carrot (chopped)
*1 celery (chopped)
*1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
*red pepper flakes
*4 sprigs fresh thyme and 1 sprig fresh rosemary. Tie together with cooking twine.
*Salt and Pepper to taste
*Bread (Gluten-free or regular)
*1 clove of garlic
*Olive oil

Now, here's how you pull all of this together. First, wash the leeks thoroughly. They are grown in sandy soil and usually have a large amount of sand or dirt in them.
Then in a large heavy-bottomed pot melt the stick of butter on medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the leeks. Let the leeks slightly caramelize or get slightly brown. Do NOT let them burn! Pour in about 1/2 cup of wine and scrap the bottom of the pot to release all the brown veggie flavor. Cook for 5 or so minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
Now, stop! If you frequently utilize a slow cooker and cannot be at home monitoring this concoction then feel free to add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker at this very moment. Remember, the slow cooker (a.k.a. crock pot) does all the simmering for you. Add the above and following ingredients and let your slow cooker do its job.
Now,add the chopped carrots, celery, potatoes and fresh herbs. Cover all the vegetables with the stock. If the stock doesn't quite cover everything then add additional water. Bring to a rolling boil and let simmer for about 1-2 hours. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Finally, blend the entire mass with a hand blender, food processor, or regular blender until smooth. Taste and add extra salt and pepper to your liking. Transfer to the soup to the original pot and keep warm for serving.

Now for the best part! BRUSCHETTA! I cannot serve this soup without bruschetta. Oh. My. Word!!! If you have never tried this you must. It's the icing on the cake. You must do everything in this order or it will not be nearly as good.
In essence, bruschetta is toasted bread with olive oil and garlic. Here's how it works. First toast your favorite bread in a toaster. Our family loves Avenue Bread Co.'s Italian Peasant bread. They also make great gluten-free bread if your body requires it. Once the bread is toasted drizzle a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil on the warm bread. Then rub a freshly peeled clove of raw garlic onto said slice. Then wait. Oh, the aroma. It's truly heavenly and delish. I keep ample amounts of toasted bruschetta to serve and dip into this soup. It really does give it that extra punch.
Finally, don't forget to serve yourself (and to whomever else would enjoy it) a glass of the white wine you used for deglazing. As a rule of thumb, whatever you use for the preparation of the meal will also pair with it.
Enjoy, experiment, and let me know how you choose to enhance this soup for your family.