Potato Leek Soup

As my farmer’s market wraps up, a few staples that have been consistently available for the past few weeks are winter squash, potatoes, and leeks.  One of my goals for this winter is to get better at making soup, and so potatoes and leeks immediately made me think of potato leek soup.  Many recipes out there call for cream, but I found some lighter versions from two reliable sources – Smitten Kitchen and David Lebovitz, so I decided to try a compilation of the two.  I’ve now made this soup twice in the past few weeks, and both times it came out delicious despite slightly different ratios of potatoes, leeks, and stock.  I love recipes like this which are so flexible – nothing here has to be exact, since there are so many opportunities to adjust consistency and seasoning along the way.

So if you have a chance, grab some potatoes and leeks, make some chicken stock, and throw together this very simple and comforting dish!

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Potato Leek Soup
improvised with inspiration from Smitten Kitchen and David Lebovitz

3 tablespoons butter
1 bunch leeks (2-3 leeks)
2 lbs potatoes (approximately 3 medium), peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups chicken stock or a combination of chicken stock and water (I used 2 cups of each; for a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth or all water)
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a heavy large pot over medium heat and add butter.

Prepare leeks: First, remove “hairy” end and dark green parts.  Next, cut in half lengthwise and then across into thin slices.  Place chopped leeks in a bowl of water to make sure all the sand is removed (it’s important to clean leeks AFTER cutting because sand can get trapped between the layers), and drain well (my favorite way to do this is to place in my salad spinner filled with water…I can then just pull out the insert and all of the sand stays at the bottom of the bowl.  You could also do this with any strainer that fits in a bowl).

Add clean leeks to the pot with melted butter. Gently sautee leeks until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, stock, water, thyme, and bay leaves.  Simmer, covered, until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork or sharp knife, about 15-30 minutes depending on the size of your chunks.  REMOVE BAY LEAF, and then puree using a stick blender, leaving some texture to the potatoes.  If the soup is too thick, add some water a little at a time until your desired consistency is reached (I prefer some little bits of potato to remain).  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Makes approximately 6 cups

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