Monday, January 26, 2009

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

We had a few days of abnormally warm weather, but we're back to cold January nights. Enter my favorite cast member of the food pyramid, soup. (Okay, so maybe soup never got its own spot on the food pyramid, but if you ask me, it deserves one). Today I decided to try a soup that I've not only never cooked before, but I've never even eaten it before. Yet it always intrigued me.

We're talking potato-leek soup, people. It's French, it's classy, it's simple. And leave it to the Barefoot Contessa to think of a great way to make it extra flavorful and delicious - roast the vegetables first. I'm seeing this in more and more soup recipes, and I have to say it's pure genius. We all know that the best way to draw out incredible flavor from any vegetable is to toss it around in some EVOO, salt and pepper, and roast it in the oven. So why not do it to veggies before you puree them for soup? It's logical. And it's genius.

This soup warms the cockles of your heart, as my grandmother used to say. And it features my new favorite allium, the leek. I went to my farmers market on Sunday and picked up the most incredible-looking leeks I've ever seen. They were about a mile long.

The smell of the leeks and potatoes roasting has filled our entire home with a deliciously tantalizing smell. This is what winter smells like, my friends.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa's "Back to Basics"

serves 4


the leeks and potatoes are taking a cool bath together.

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped

2 tablespoons EVOO

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 generous handfuls of baby arugula

1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk

4 ounces creme fraiche

2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan


1. Preheat the oven to 400. Combine potatoes and leeks in a shallow roasting pan in a single layer. Toss with EVOO, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes, tossing occasionally so they cook evenly, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss. Roast for an additional 4 minutes, until arugula is wilted. Remove pan from oven and place on the stove.

2. Over low heat, add the wine and 1/2 cup of the broth, stirring and scraping up any crispy bits in the roasting pan.
Cook a couple of minutes.

3. In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables and liquid to a food processor. Add additional broth to each batch provide more liquid, and puree. After you puree each batch, put it in a large pot or Dutch oven. When all the veggies are pureed, you should have used about half of the broth. Add the rest of the broth to the pot along with milk, creme fraiche, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in the parmesan. Serve hot.

Like I said, I'm no expert on potato-leek soup, but I have a feeling that after having it this way I'll never want to eat it the "regular" way. There is a depth of flavor that can only come from roasting and caramelizing the vegetables. If you have some crusty sourdough laying around I think it would go great with this soup! Enjoy.

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