As the days grow colder and my morning walks are greeted with showers of falling leaves, nothing hits the spot quite like a bowl of soup. So that's what's on the menu today, in spades. My ultimate autumn menu involves a bowl of Creamy Potato-Leek Soup that's been sprinkled with grated sharp cheese and crumbled bacon with a bit of crusty bread alongside. Add a glass of chilled white wine and I'm welcome fall with open arms.
In particular, being a member of a CSA means I'll have just a couple of ingredients to pick up to make this soup a reality. As the growing season progresses, the leeks, onion, garlic and potatoes inevitably all show up in a share and it's just a matter of listening to the craving I begin to feel for this decadent soup. Now, you don't have to include the cheese and bacon at the end before serving … but it's absolutely fantastic when served this way. Also, you can technically serve this soup hot or cold, but I've never been much of a fan of it cold. And especially in fall, a bowl of hot, velvety soup is particularly comforting, so that's how I serve it in my nest.
You can omit the bacon fat and use three tablespoons of butter if you don't have it on hand, but it adds a lovely smokiness to the soup and is a great way to use rendered fat from the bacon you fried for breakfast last weekend or for crumbling over the soup you are about to make. I highly recommend trying it. It's delicious and the simplest form of recycling! You can opt for a sandwich alongside your soup, but a simple loaf of crusty French bread or a light salad of mixed greens with a vinegar-based dressing will do just as well. Sometimes I opt for a fun appetizer course and follow it up with a bowl of this soup. Simple is good, right? Enjoy and happy fall!
- 1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minded
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced small
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Grated sharp cheese, optional
- Crumbled bacon, optional
Slice the leeks into small disks.
In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and bacon fat. Add the leeks, onion, and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes and the chicken broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, half and half, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve sprinkled with grated sharp cheese and crumbled bacon, if desired.
- Yields: 6 servings
- Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes