- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

You can never have too many soups. Here’s a classic one — potato-leek soup — to get us through the final throes of winter.

Keep this recipe out as the temperature outside warms because it is also a winner when served chilled.

Serve this soup with a large salad of romaine and arugula studded with dried cranberries, toasted pecans and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.

A fresh loaf of good artisan bread completes the course.

Potato-leek soup

3 medium-size russet potatoes

3 cups chopped, cleaned leeks (see note)

1 medium-size stalk celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, peeled

6 cups water (possibly more)

1½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)

1 cup milk (low-fat or soy OK)

Freshly ground black pepper

OPTIONAL:

Minced fresh herbs (small amounts of basil, thyme or marjoram)

A touch of cream for the top

Scrub or peel the potatoes, and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a soup pot or a Dutch oven with the leeks, celery, carrot, garlic, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes).

Don’t worry about overcooking the vegetables. Remove from heat and cool until mixture is not too hot to puree. (Splashing happens.)

Puree the soup using a hand-held immersion blender or a regular blender or food processor. If using one of these two machines, you’ll need to do this in batches and then return the puree to another pot. Stir in the milk.

Add black pepper to taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then heat gently (or chill until cold — delicious). Serve hot or cold, topped with a light sprinkling of minced fresh herbs and a drizzle of cream, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: The easiest way to clean leeks is to trim off the tough green tops and bottom about a quarter-inch, and then cut the middle section (the white and light green parts) into round strips, about ½-inch wide. Immerse the strips in a large bowl of cold water, and vigorously swish them around. Then lift them out of the water, leaving the silt behind, and place them in a colander to drain.

Mollie Katzen is author of the legendary “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press).

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