Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner in a Bowl

Potato leek soup is something I make fairly regularly, especially around this time of year when leeks are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. I love it for being quick, easy, cheap and oh-so-satisfying.

But last week, I did something I’d never done before. I would like to claim that I was being profoundly clever but the truth is, I had a big old thing of turkey stock in the freezer, and it was one of those ‘I’ve got to get more room in here’ moments. I had no leftover turkey with which to make turkey soup, and thought it might be an interesting change to use it as the base for a potato soup.

It is, indeed, an interesting change.

On the one hand, I’m sure I wouldn’t like it ‘all the time’. I actually prefer a potato leek soup made with a clear vegetable stock, because I am fond of leeks and potatoes and I don’t want the stock to be upstaging them. There is also a vague feeling that you’re actually eating mashed potatoes with waaaaaaaaaaaay too much gravy on them.

But. On the other hand…it is like drinking Thanksgiving dinner. It is one of the most “comfort-food” soups I think I’ve ever made. It got an enthusiastic thumbs up from the husband and two of the four kids (the other two don’t count, because they also don’t like ice cream or anything from McDonalds – obviously, they have un-American taste buds). And it is pretty low fat, too, which is important for those of us who are dieting, or whose stomachs go into Volcanic Eruption Mode when dietary indiscretions occur.

There are a million recipes for potato leek soup out there; this is mine, which I’ve modified to include a minimum of fat in deference to my testy stomach.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil (you can also use butter, if the fat thing isn’t an issue for you)
6 small leeks (or 4 regular), white and very-light-green parts only, thinly sliced and washed
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
~ 5-6 cups water or stock (vegetable, chicken or in this case, turkey!)
1 cup milk, optional but tasty (I use 1% due to my dietary issues; for more decadence, try 1/2 cup cream!)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a nice big soup pot, heat up the oil or butter over medium-to-medium-high heat, add the leeks and celery and saute until the leeks are translucent – usually about eight to ten minutes. Stir often, don’t let them burn!

Add the potatoes and stock to cover plus about an inch. Bring it to boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and ignore for about twenty minutes.

Test the potatoes – they should be fork-tender. Now, you can leave the soup just like this for the ‘rustic’ look, but personally I like it smooth and creamy. You can use a hand blender if you’ve got one, or put it carefully through your blender if you don’t. You can also put only part of it through the blender, which gives it more body but leaves the chunks of potato for a more hearty feel.

Stir in your milk or cream if using and give it a taste either way. It will need salt and pepper – add as much as you feel it needs. I usually end up with about one and a half teaspoons sea salt and maybe a quarter teaspoon of fresh ground pepper – that way the Denizens will eat it, while the husband and I can add more if we feel it needs it.

That’s all there is to it. Simple, fast, warming and filling. Good stuff, people.

And now I’m going to go work on that shawl. I really mean it, this time.


'M' said...

Sounds delicious! I can't wait to try your recipe out. Sounds like something my husband and I would love!

Anonymous said...

Yummmmmmmmmm. I love potato soup and this sounds dee-licious!

Anonymous said...

You know, if I used a veggie stock and tossed in the leftover salmon bits in the freezer, that could be quite good...

Sadie Killmouski

Science PhD Mom said...

Sounds good! I always intend to make soups and then never get around to it. One of these days...