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Potato and Leek Soup

Julia Child said, “Leek and potato soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make.” The Joy of Cooking: “Potatoes and leeks make magic together.” They are both exactly right. Potato leek soup is about as simple and excellent a recipe as any to make, and it’s especially welcome on those first cool, late summer nights.

I’d rarely say that leeks and potatoes make for star ingredients, but when your vegetables are fresh, combined with a good stock, and topped with fresh chives and crispy bacon, they become a soul-satisfying meal. We ate our soup for dinner with salad, bread and fruit, and could barely wait to finish it up for lunch the next day.

Recipes for potato leek soup can vary quite dramatically in their quantities and cooking methods. I like to use relatively equal quantities of both potatoes and leeks, but digress from Julia Child’s advice and sauté my leeks in butter before simmering them with the potatoes and stock.

Whichever method you choose, make sure the leeks are very clean. I prefer to chop them first, fill a huge bowl with water and swish them around. The grit falls to the bottom of the bowl and you can skim the chopped leeks off the top. I also happened to have little golden potatoes, which I simply scrubbed and thinly sliced. The peels were so thin we didn’t even notice them, but larger potatoes should be peeled.

The soup thickens as it cools, so thin the soup, if necessary with a bit more stock or water when reheating leftovers (if there are any!).

P.S. Barbara (who requested a five-ingredient recipe), this is for you!

Potato Leek Soup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks (white part only), cleaned thoroughly and chopped (about 3 cups)
3 to 4 cups potatoes, peeled if you wish, sliced thinly or diced
4 to 5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
Salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground white or black pepper
Chives or parsley to garnish, along with some bacon if you wish!

1. In a soup pot, or large Dutch oven, melt the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and cook until tender, but not browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Note: regular blenders, food processors and food mills also work fine, with just slight variations in the soup’s texture.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Thin if necessary. Ladle into warmed bowls and top with desired garnish.

Serves 4.

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