My Kids’ Favorite Soup- Potato Leek

Jump to the InstaRecipe if you’re in a rush and/or don’t want any Dad Advice! 

March 28, 2022.  Dear Kids– Over the years, Mom and I would always think it was so sweet whenever the youngest of you two would suggest I make your sister’s favorite soup- potato leek.  So, I would make this creamy and comforting soup, with happy thoughts that such consideration was part of a proper balance to the sibling rivalries that would pop up from time to time between you two. Not to say you two were competitive, but once, while you each took a dog out back for “Last Call”, I overheard one of you exclaim with pride, “My dog pooped before yours!”.

Then, very recently and years later, we found out that these thoughtful soup requests were all just a big con job- potato leek soup was never your sister’s favorite soup, it was yours! Your sister had been telling us this for some time, but we always thought it was a joke- turns out the joke was on us. In case you were wondering, your sister’s favorite soup is lentil (recipe coming soon)! 

I should have known you had the potential to be an evil genius since you were in third grade and after Mom told you she couldn’t join you at your school book sale because of a meeting. As soon as you heard that, you quickly replied (really too quickly if you ask me), “Why don’t you just tell them you have to go to the bathroom and then just leave and come to my school?” In our defense, this type of thinking was really out of character for you, but perhaps that’s what made the Big Soup Con so effective.

Fortunately, and in spite of its checkered history, the entire family continues to enjoy this potato leek soup and even shares a good laugh over the Big Soup Con whenever I make it. This may be a recipe only one of you makes on a regular basis, but it’s also good for the other to have on hand to impress your sibling whenever they visit.

Diet:  Vegetarian, Vegan Option

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time:  35 minutes

Servings: 8

GET YOUR STUFF OUT

  • 2 tablespoon canola oil or butter
  • 3 large leeks (with generous white sections if possible)- green parts and root tips cut off and discarded- white parts cleaned well and diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 5 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 10 cups light colored, vegetable broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
  • 2 teaspoons cider or other vinegar or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup half and half or cashew cream, optional
  • optional garnish(es)- thinly sliced scallions, croutons (recipe in The Lecture), crushed potato chips, french fried onions, etc.
Crush up the toasted bread picture above, and, voila, you have rustic croutons!

COOK AND PLAY

Play “Le Festin” by Camille & Michael Giacchino, from “Ratatouille” to inspire you as you cook, ‘cause you know there were some potatoes and leeks in Remy’s spectacular soup

1. Fix Your Leeks. Get a large Dutch Oven or similar pot going over medium low heat, add oil or butter and, once the pot warms up, add leeks. Sauté leeks, with thyme and a pinch or two of kosher salt, until softened, but not browned. 

2. Slice Your Spuds. Peel potatoes. Next, cut four sides and ends off each potato, so the “body” of each potato looks like a block. Cut the chopped potato sides and ends (“potato trimmings”) into small, even pieces and add into pan with leeks and a few more pinches of salt. Cut the block bodies of the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and set aside, covered in a bowl of water, to be added into the soup later. 

The potato “block” for dicing on the far left and the “potato trimmings” for the broth on the right.

3. Bubble and Blitz Your Broth. Add vegetable broth to leeks and potato trimmings and simmer until potato trimmings are very soft- 15 minutes or so. If using fresh thyme, fish out thyme stems. Use a stick blender to transform everything to a smooth broth. If you don’t have a blender, then mash potato trimmings like crazy until “rustically smooth”. Add potato cubes to broth and simmer until cubes are just soft; stirring in more veg. broth if thick bubbles form to cause potato explosions- another 15 minutes or so. You can smoosh up some of the cooked potato cubes in the broth and/or add half and half or cashew cream for a thicker and/or richer experience- that’s up to you. Taste soup and adjust seasoning with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and cider vinegar (add a little and taste before adding more). 

4. Top Your Tater Soup. Ladle soup into nice serving bowls and, if you wish, top with thinly sliced scallions and croutons.

THE LECTURE

Keep Your Eye On The Potato.  For whatever reason, our family has made this soup with russet potatoes, which are on the starchy end of the potato spectrum. There are many varieties of potatoes, but from a textural standpoint they generally fall into the following three categories- from the most to least amount of starch- starchy (like russet), all purpose (like Yukon Gold) and waxy (like red potatoes). The more starch a potato has, the more it will break down, the more it will absorb flavor (like butter, cream, oil) and the crispier it will become if fried. So keep this in mind when deciding on a potato or potatoes to use in this recipe. Many prefer Yukon Gold for a slightly smoother soup and for potatoes that hold their shape a bit better when cooked. There’s also a thought that using russet or Yukon Gold potatoes to make the pureed broth and then simmering red skin or other waxy potatoes for the potato “bites” is the way to go. I’ve even garnished the soup, made with either russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, with a finely diced thyme and new potato hash from time to time, so it’s really up to you to figure out what tastes best to you.

Leave the Brown to UPS.  This soup is intended to be mostly white and not at all brown. This shouldn’t be a problem as long as you take this advice- “sweat”, don’t brown your leeks; make sure your vegetable stock is lightly colored; and if you prep your taters ahead (you can do this hours ahead), make sure to store them in a bowl in the fridge, completely covered in water. Also, when I say “sweat”, I mean to cook your onions so they take on a healthy glow and start to soften while cooking in the oil and just before they get to the ‘tanning” or browning stage.

So Many Garnishes.  As briefly noted above, there are many a garnish or garnish combos that work well with this soup. Whatever you like on or with potatoes. Go Full Dad with fully loaded potato toppings- crumbled bacon, sour cream, grated cheese, and scallion slices. Why not “Bangers and Mash”, with crispy bits of sausage and drizzle of malt vinegar. From my plant lovers- how about crispy kale and roasted sunflower seeds atop each serving? Your potatoes, your choice.

Homemade Croutons InstaRecipe.  It doesn’t get much easier than this- tear off bite sized pieces from or thinly slice a nice loaf of bread, toss with a good amount of canola oil, season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste, and toast it all nice and crunchy on a sheet in the middle rack of a 425° oven- if you used toasted sliced bread, give each slice a rub with a garlic clove and break into bite sized pieces.

© 2022 All rights reserved.  Dad’s Dinner Diary

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