Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rustic Potato Leek Soup

When I hear the word rustic used to describe food, I usually think, chunky, not uniform in size, and all and all a lazy meal. I am choosing to reclaim "rustic" to describe my soup. Here, rustic means, homemade, mashed by hand potato soup, rich with flavor and using basic ingredients.

I drew my inspiration from Pinch My Salt, but tweaked the recipe in terms of fat content and seasoning. She used heavy cream and a lot of it. I didn't have any and I also feel like it would be fine without the extra fat. I also have been listening to Anthony Bourdain's audiobook, Kitchen Confidential, and he says the reason restaurant food tastes better than home cooking, is butter. Virtually all sauces (and soups) are finished with butter added in the end. I didn't add butter at the end, but rather in the beginning and in the middle. I think I used about 3 tablespoons (2 in the beginning and add an extra tablespoon when I added the potatoes). I think that comes out to about a half a tablespoon per serving which is livable.

1 bag (1.5 lbs) of small yukon potatoes
1 really big leek (white and light green parts diced)
1 container of chicken stock/broth (I used 3/4s of a box of organic broth from Whole Foods)
2 small onions (or one medium) medium dice
1 tablespoon thyme (dried)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon white ground pepper (My new favorite; use regular pepper and it will be fine too, but white pepper is fantastic and if you have the means, I highly recommend picking up some.)
2-3 tablespoons of butter
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (depending on how much fat you want, you can adjust the oil and butter content)
1/2 cup-1 cup of half and half (Surely, you can use milk instead, it will be less rich, but save on calories. This recipe serves 6-8 as a full meal, so I just think it's really not too terrible per serving)

1. Dice the leek, wash it. Wash it a lot. Leeks grow in sand and you would be better off not eating sand. Dice the onion(s). Throw both in a large pot (my favorite choice is ALWAYS a risotto pan) and cook on low in butter for about 3-5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, use a food processor to slice the potatoes thin. I saw this on Pinch My Salt. Holy cow is this fast and easy! I added one more tablespoon of butter and the olive oil at this point, all the spices and the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with stock/broth just until the potatoes are covered.
3. Raise the heat! Take the burner up to about medium and bring the potato soup up to a low boil. Slowly pour in the half and half. Cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender. I think about 10-15 minutes, but I don't really pay attention to time; I pay attention to taste. When the potatoes are tender, it's time to turn off the heat.

4. Get out your masher and mash the potatoes to the texture of your choosing. I went "rustic" meaning that they were not pulverized, but rather an even mix. I think the thin slices don't take too much effort to mash. Serve immediately with a nice bread.

The photo below shows the soup pre-mash.

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