Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumn Has Arrived

With the cold weather and rain, one can't help but to admit that summer is finally over. It was confusing for a while, what with temperatures over 110 degrees in October, but now it's cold and raining. I'm pretty sure it'll just get colder from here on out. I think it's only natural that we simple humans would crave a rich, hearty soup to warm the soul.

I signed up for an organic produce delivery service ( at a food tasting event I went to. They sent me a box full of fresh veggies and in it were these beautiful leeks and russet potatoes. They inspired to make a potato and leek soup.

There's a few cooking terms that I should talk about before we get to the recipe.

First is a bouquet garni. A bouquet garni is a bundle of spices tied together. You add a bouquet garni into soup, stock or some sort of liquid so that the spices can be easily fished out of the soup while still allowing the flavors infuse into the liquid. In this case, I tuck the spices between 2 leek leaves, then tie the 2 leaves together.

I don't like using twine, because I think it's a bit of a waste. Instead, i just grab some fibers from the leeks (from either the leaves or the slim core) and use them to tie the leek leaves together.

The next is deglazing. Deglazing is when a liquid is poured into a hot cooking vessel to remove the browned bits that are stuck on the bottom. Pouring a small amount of liquid and scraping with a wooden spoon would clean the bits off the bottom to prevent them from burning and to infuse the carmelized flavors into the dish. Contrary to popular belief, you don't HAVE to deglaze using alcohol. It's just an effective and flavorful liquid that cooks prefer to use. In this dish, I deglaze with chicken broth instead of alcohol because I don't feel like it adds to the flavors I hope to achieve.  Also, I don't feel like opening up a bottle of wine to use just a quarter cup of it in this dish.

I researched some recipes online and just created my own recipe from what I saw.

2 large leeks, diced
1.5 lbs russet potatoes, diced
1 qt chicken stock
2 slices applewood smoked bacon, cut into pieces
2 cups whole milk
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
white pepper

1) Make a bouquet garni out of 2 leek leaves, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns.
2) Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy.
3) Add the leeks and as much cooking oil as necessary to cook them until they are soft.

4) Deglaze the pot with a little chicken stock, then add the rest of the chicken stock, bouquet garni and potatoes.

5) Close the lid and simmer on medium low heat until the potatoes are completely soft. Turn off the heat, then add the milk.

6) Blend the soup in a blender or food processor until you achieve your desired consistency. If you have an immersion blender, now is the time to take it out for a spin! *tee hee*
7) Return the soup to the pot and season to taste with salt and white pepper.

8) Chop up some dill to sprinkle on top of your soup for garnish and a little added flavor.

This soup is tasty, but I felt like the texture was a bit too thick. I think next time, I'll use more broth to thin out the soup. For anyone who would like to use my recipe, I'd suggest using 1.5 quarts of chicken broth. Aside from that, I'm very happy with the soup. Not much else hits the spot on a rainy day than a good bowl of warm soup. =)