Many Potato Leek soup recipes tend to be bland and I wanted to find a way to make this soup rich and flavorful (no, I did not put curry in it this time) without radically changing the delicious and earthy flavor profile. All it took were a couple of ingredients and voila! It was exactly what I was looking for… once again, I used my garlic broth and the final touch was adding just a pinch of smoked paprika… and perfection!
First, you want to determine what stock you’re going to use as a base. I prefer my homemade garlic broth (see Did You Know? at the bottom to learn the difference between stock and broth) over chicken stock or plain vegetable stock. Chicken stock will definitely add more flavor but then your soup is no longer vegetarian-friendly. Below is my recipe for the garlic broth. Start there and have this handy before beginning the soup.
Start Here: *Vegetable Garlic Broth
you can make as much or as little as you like… I prefer to make the largest batch I can manage so I can freeze small containers worth and have this ready to add to any soup, any time. This recipe is based off of 2.5 quarts.(More recipes to come using this tasty broth!)
2.5 qts vegetable stock preferably from scratch but try to use organic if purchasing cans or boxes of broth (it’s roughly six 14oz cans).
4-5 tablespoons (heaping) coarsely diced garlic (roughly 2 bulbs)
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil
3 pinches dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 pinch salt
2-3 medium leeks (about 1.5 lb)
2-2.5 lbs red potatoes (leave skins on)
1/2 of a medium sweet onion, diced.
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
5 strips bacon or pancetta, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups garlic broth
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika divided
1/2 – 3/4 cup Crème Fraîche or heavy cream (this step is optional if you want to reduce the fat. It’s just not as tasty! The cream also lightens to hue of the soup.)
Cut two 6×6 inch squares of cheesecloth and layer together. In the center, place the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Trim 2 of the green portions of the leek leaves, cut in half and place in center of cheesecloth, as well. Tie into a package-shaped bundle with kitchen twine and set aside.
Using a knife, halve the white part of the leeks lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to rid the leek of any sand and dirt. TIP: I fill a large bowl with water and soak them for a few minutes, to really get the grit out of the thin layers. Then pat dry. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside. Wash and dice potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes and set aside.
Ready To Cook?
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon and the sweet onion. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat and the onion is soft. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the reserved cheesecloth bundle, garlic broth, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful. It will be a brownish/auburn color at this point, due to the skins of the red potatoes.
Remove the cheesecloth bundle of spices and, working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender. If using a blender, be sure to remove the center locking cap from the lid to allow steam to escape from the hole or you will blow the lid off your blender and you may get scalded with soup. Not that I’ve ever done that. If you own an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot. Stir in the Crème Fraîche or heavy cream and 3/4 tsp of smoked paprika and stir until blended. Add salt or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately, with a pinch of smoked paprika and tiny sprig of fresh thyme to garnish the top of each bowl of soup.
The Perfect Bite
Be sure to swirl the paprika garnish into your bowl for added flavor. A crusty toasted slice of baguette is perfect for scooping up the thick potatoey goodness.
The Perfect Pairing
Try Yalumba’s Viognier. Slightly sweet, citrus-y and nicely balanced. This fruity full-flavored varietal shows more complexity with food.
Did You Know?
Many people are confused by the soup terms of broth, stock and bouillon. They are all very similar but with slight differences. Stock has no salt added, Broth has salt added for preserving and for serving as soup on its own, or clarifying for a consommé.
For instance… my Garlic Broth starts as a vegetable stock, which does not taste good on its own. But when infused with garlic and the additional spices… it becomes a broth… and can be consumed as a soup or used as a base for a more complex soup. Confused? Read more here.