Fresh food. Simple and seasonal. Mostly Mediterranean.
With the arrival of fall, I start to crave steaming bowls of my favorite soups, especially smooth purees or chunky concoctions that make the most of the autumn harvest. This week, that craving led me to one of my favorite cookbooks, "Soups and Sides," by Cathy Walthers. I happened to have a pile of potatoes and a handful of leeks from my CSA (Community Supported Agricultural Farm), so I turned to her Potato-Leek Soup and got started peeling potatoes, slicing leeks, and thawing homemade chicken stock that I'd made a few weeks earlier. Surprisingly, this soup achieves its creamy texture without a drop of cream. I like to double, triple, or even quadruple soup recipes so that we have plenty on hand when those cravings strike. One taste of this soothing dish, and you'll want to stock up batches of it, too.
1. In a soup pot, saute onion and leeks in the butter over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the water, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
2. Remove the bay leaves. Puree the soup in a blender in 2 batches until creamy and smooth. Return the soup to the pot and heat gently. This soup typically needs a fair amount of salt; keep adding salt a bit at a time, tasting as you go, until the leek flavor shines through. Add the pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with parsley, and if you'd like to add meat for the carnivores in your group, a bit of crumbled bacon.