Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Leek and Potato Soup with Winter Greens

Even at its most basic, potato leek soup is thing of beauty. Some sort of alchemy occurs when those two elements come together with just a little fat, salt, and water and the result is positively addictive. But that doesn't mean it's not worth tinkering with. This version is a slightly elevated version of  the basic, starting with an intensely flavored, silky homemade stock. Making stock from scratch certainly lengthens the time from fridge to table, but there's plenty of time for all the other prep work while it slowly simmers on the stove. The addition of fresh spinach or other winter greens ups the nutrition factor and lightens the body, with the final finishing touches of bright lemon juice and fresh dill uniting all the elements. A classic with a little hint of something extra, this soup is simple, soul-warming, from-scratch cookery at its finest. And that's exactly what you need when winter rears its ugly head.

Leek and Potato Soup with Winter Greens
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
serves 6 to 8

10 cups water
3 leeks, sliced down the center and well-rinsed
1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped carrots
4 cups coarsely chopped potatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups baby spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Add water to a large soup pot. Cut the dark green tops off the leeks, rinse well to remove any hidden sand, and stir them into the pot. Add the carrots, about half of the potatoes, the thyme, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer the stock for about 45 minutes.

2. While the stock simmers, remove the root ends from the leeks, peel of the outermost later, and chop the white and most tender green parts.

3. In a large sup pot, saute the leeks in olive oil until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the stock and add it to the fennel and leeks. Add the rest of the potatoes and simmer until soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the spinach, dill, lemon juice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

4. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth and silky. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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