Thursday, December 23, 2010

De la Casa Cuisine - Potato Leek Soup

Everyone has one dish that they can cook the shit out of. It's their best dish and whenever they are asked to bring something to a party or potluck it's that go to that always wows a crowd. This is my wow the crowd dish. I fumbled the recipe together after receiving some uber fresh leeks from a local farm in Maryland that guaranteed they had been picked that day. I have never been ever to make it as delicious as I did that first time, so if you can get your hands on fresh out of the ground leeks, make this soup asap! Full disclosure, this is my own spin on Alton Brown's potato leek soup recipe that can be found here. The key difference is I added lemon juice, used black pepper, and doubled the buttermilk because I like a tangy punch to the back of my throat.

2 large or 3 medium size leeks
3 small yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 quart vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cream
2 cups buttermilk
By the by if you don't want to buy buttermilk because inevitably what you won't use in this recipe is going to get thrown out, you can get whole milk and add lemon juice to it to make your own.

Ok onto the fun! Start by washing your leeks, which I like to do by cutting in half and then rinsing thoroughly, those suckers are full of dirt when you get them from the farmer's market. Once they're clean, dice them up and don't worry about making them pretty because you're going to cook them into oblivion. Bust out a dutch oven and heat up the two tablespoons of butter, toss in the leeks, add a pinch of your salt and c
over it all up. A word of advice, keep the heat nice and low because if those bad boys start to caramelize the whole thing will be ruined (yes I am speaking from experience). Set the timer for 25 minutes and turn to the potatoes.

Start by peeling them and then dice them into small (1/2 - 1 inch cubes) pieces. Back before I had an emulsion blender I aired on the side of small so that I wouldn't have to spend as much time mashing them up later. Now that I have my dreamboat cuisinart, I'm less concerned. Once your potatoes are chopped sprinkle another pinch of salt over them.Stir those leeks periodically while your dicing the potatoes, did I mention you have got to make sure they don't caramelize? DON'T LET THEM CARAMELIZE! Once the timer has beeped and the leeks are nice and soft (taste one to make sure it's nice and mushy, butter sauted leeks are delicious all on their own!).

If they melt in your mouth, add the vegetable broth and bring the whole thing to a boil. Once it's boiling, throw in the bay leaf before you cover it up and set the timer for 45 minutes. The good news is you can go do something elsle for that 45 minutes because this isn't too sensitive and doesn't need to be stirred much. After you hear the timer go off, the potatoes should be fall-apart soft. If they are nice and tender, you are ready to remove the bay leaf and blend this into a soup. The softness of the potatoes is key if you're going to be making this without any kind of blender. Whip out your largest wooden spoon and start stirring that mixture vigorously. If you are blessed with an immersion blender, move your pot close to the outlet and blend away. Don't feel the need to make it 100% smooth. I find that chewing into the occasional bit of potato is pleasant when you're enjoying this comforting delight.

I've only had my immersion blender for three and a half months and I still get nerdily excited every time I get to use it. After you've enjoyed blending the soup up, grind in a couple clicks worth of pepper and let everything cool before adding any of the dairy ingredients. If you need to make buttermilk out of lemon juice and milk, this is a good time to put it together. After about 10 minutes, it should be cool enough.
Measure out the cream and stir it in slowly making sure not to get any curdled bits. Do the same with the buttermilk and lemon juice. Last, sprinkle in another touch of salt and few more clicks of pepper to taste. If you're still craving tang, add a bit more lemon juice. I know there are lots of fattening components here that you might be tempted to substitute, but I highly recommend preparing it this way and enjoying it in reasonable portions to keep the calorie count under control. A small bowl of soup will keep you full, scout's honor! Enjoy!

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