Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two Ingredients? Make Soup

Leek and Potato Soup is one of the classic soups I enjoy making. But  you know as well as I do that 2 ingredients do not a soup make.  I mean, you can call it leek & potato soup, but there are gonna be some other ingredients in there - like water and salt, for instance.   As a matter of fact, that's how I used to make it, and that method came from one of my favorite Julia Child books: 1989's The Way to Cook (still a great gift for aspiring cooks). As Julia said:

Leeks and potatoes simmered in lightly salted water make a perfect soup in themselves even without the addition of a little cream (wink, wink)...

Now when I make leek and potato soup, I like to gussy it up with a few other ingredients that taste good...
Pictured above are some of those other ingredients that taste good; there's homemade chicken stock, both russet and Yukon Gold potatoes, celery, kale, the cleaned leeks, a rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano (you save those, right?), and  hidden somewhere under it all a couple of slices of good bacon and a clove or two of garlic.

Start by slowly cooking the bacon in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until most of the fat has melted, then add the diced leeks, celery, potatoes and garlic, (minced, please) sweating all until translucent.

Now add your chicken stock/water and cheese rind, bring to a boil, taste the broth and add salt and pepper (trust me, potato soups need a shitload of salt), reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

Now comes the fun part. First, remove that rind. Then, I like to smash the potatoes with the back of a big wooden spoon until the soup gets nice and thick.  If it's too thick, add some water. Taste. Does it need more salt? Pepper? Then add them! Also, dice the rind and add it back.  If you're using kale or some other green (of course, you've already washed and shredded it, right?) add it to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Kale will take a good 20 minutes until it's tender.  Taste again - you don't want your guests asking for salt, do you?

And it's as simple as that.  Twelve Ingredient Leek and Potato Soup, With Kale, Bacon and Parmigiano...

12 (or 13) Ingredient Leek and Potato Soup With Kale, Bacon and Parmigiano

1 lb. baking potatoes, coarsely chopped (I use Yukon Golds and russets)
1 lb. leeks, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices bacon, diced
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 small bunch kale, washed and cut up
2 T olive oil
1 qt. chicken stock, more or less
1 qt. water, more or less
Salt and pepper

Method above.

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