It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what attracts us to a particular recipe. If I’m searching for a specific dish, I like to look for classic renditions first. Then I seek out recipes with a clever twist. The best recipes, though, have a little bit of both—they honor the original dish while changing a few simple elements to elevate the yum factor.
Maybe that’s why this recipe was just my type. Apparently, all it takes to win me over is a handful of oven-crisped leeks piled high on a classic, creamy yet cream-free Potato Leek Soup.
For the soup:
1 large or 2 medium leeks (about 3 cups), thinly sliced, green sections included (reserve half of the sliced leeks for the Crispy Leek Rings recipe below)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large russet potato or 5-6 baby potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 bay leaf or one small leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups water
A dash of garlic salt at the end, to taste
Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
Pecorino cheese, freshly grated for garnish (optional)
Crispy leek rings for garnish (recipe below)
To wash the leeks, cut in half lengthwise and rinse under running water with darker green leaves pointing downwards. Use your fingers to separate the leaves and rub off any dirt (Or check out this great post by David Lebovitz on how to wash and prepare leeks).
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add half of the sliced leeks and sauté until tender.
Add the diced potatoes, water, salt, pepper, cumin and bay leaf. Simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20 – 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Using a immersion blender, purée the soup until creamy. If using a regular blender, let the soup cool slightly and make sure to transfer it to the blender in smaller batches.
After soup reaches desired creaminess, taste and adjust seasonings (this is where I added a little extra salt, cumin and a sprinkle of garlic salt).
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a generous pile of crispy leek rings (and sour cream or Pecorino if you choose, though I think it’s delicious as is). Serve immediately.
For the Crispy Leek Rings:
These are obviously a fantastic addition to potato leek soup, but they can also come in handy sprinkled on all kinds of dishes, like salads, risotto, burgers, maybe even on guacamole. Or, as the original recipe intended, they are a healthy substitute for Funyuns in string bean casserole.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Fill a large bowl with cold water and soak the remaining half of the sliced leeks. Any excess dirt should fall to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop off the leeks, discard the water and repeat until no dirt sinks to the bottom (2 soaks should do it, since the leeks were already washed as noted above). Remove leeks with a slotted spoon and run through a salad spinner to dry.
Place the dry leek rings on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Stir to coat and spread leeks to an ever layer. Bake for 30 – 60 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Say a quick thank you to Ms. Molly Katzen for her original Leek Chips recipe (created as a twist on string bean casserole). Serve on top of the yummy soup.
P.S. The pic above was taken with my iPhone. Not bad, right?