I make a bare-bones leek and potato soup fairly often in the autumn and winter. It consists of only six ingredients: leeks, potatoes, chicken broth, white pepper, salt, and a healthy blob of sour cream. And we love the stark simplicity of it.
Sometimes, you want to make something just a little bit fancier — as I did yesterday when a good friend came over for lunch. It’s not that she’s the sort of person who demands fanciness, but rather that I felt like fiddling just a bit more with things and also like getting into the herbs that I’ve had drying in the guest bedroom for a couple of months now. I had made this late last winter and neglected to blog it, and knew it was lovely enough to pull out again. So this is the soup we had, along with apple-fennel salad and bread she picked up from the bakery down the street. We finished up with persimmon pudding, and I don’t think I could find a better casual lunch menu that is so late autumn and can be put together in an hour.
4 leeks, white part only, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and medium diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons truffle honey (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Halve the leeks. Place in a bowl full of cold water and allow them to soak for 20 minutes. Drain the leeks, pat dry, and chop roughly.
Set a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and to the hot olive oil and cook, stirring to ensure that they do not burn, for 1 minute. Add the leeks and cook, stirring. Add the garlic, and when all is softened, add the rosemary, sage, and thyme. Cook until the herbs release their fragrance into the room, about 2 minutes. Tumble in the potatoes. Add enough water [or chicken stock] to cover by 1 inch.
Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Cook until your knife slides right through one of the potatoes, about 15 minutes; do not overcook the potatoes or you will have watery soup. When the potatoes are done, stop whatever you are doing and puree the soup.
Puree the soup in a blender in batches, pouring the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the blender as the blender is running. Press each batch through a fine-mesh sieve back into a large bowl. [I omit this particular step, since I prefer a soup with more texture.] Repeat until all the soup is pureed and pour it back into the pot.
Add the cream [or sour cream thinned with milk, if you prefer more tanginess] to the soup and stir to blend. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 – 15 minutes. Whisk in the cold butter. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper. Remove the soup from the heat.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each bowl of soup with 1 teaspoon of the truffle honey (if using*) and the chives.
*I have not included the honey when I’ve made this soup, but I suspect it would likely clash with the sour cream, which I use every time. You may want to chose one or the other.