Potato Leek Soup with Bacon
So did everybody go see the Sex and the City movie yet? Ok, let me re-phrase that.... did all you ladies out there go see it? If you just said no, why NOT??!!! Well, I won't ruin anything about the movie because I wouldn't DARE do that, but let me just say that it was WONDERFRUL!!! A definite roller coaster ride of emotions. My girlfriends and I walked out of that theater and all we could do was exhale. It was great. Oh, and the inside of the theater on opening night? It looked like a nightclub! It was just as I thought it would be, 98% women and most of them were dressed up in cute tops and high heels. It was the perfect girls' night out and if you haven't gone, I suggest you do!
Ok, so on to this spectacular soup. Now let me ask you this... you may not be a fan of Sex and the City, but WHO does not like the combination of butter, leeks, potatoes, and bacon????
So the scoop on this soup is that Mark and I had a leek hangin' out in the fridge because we really wanted to at some point make potato soup with it. So a few weeks ago, we decided to do just that and I have to say that it came out GREAT. I used an Emeril Lagasse recipe and really didn't have to change a thing. This soup was so good that I will actually make this again and again when we get the craving for potato soup. Oh, and a tip for ya... if you're going to garnish this soup (and you should if you're not a total idiot), make sure you use REAL bacon. Don't get me wrong, I frequently eat turkey bacon when it comes time to eat a piece of bacon, but not for this dish. You need that rich flavor and that crunch that you only get from REAL bacon. So listen to me on that. Oh and fresh chives. YUM!!!
So here's how I made it:
Start out by slicing up your leek. Aren't they beautiful when they're in slices? They remind me of the scene in Ratatouille when Remy was making the soup and he threw in some leeks.
Next, heat up some butter in a stock pot and add the chopped bacon. Mmmmmmmmm.... oh the smells already...
Next, add those beautiful leeks and start smelling one of the best smells in the world! If someone walks by the kitchen at this time, you're surely to get a hug.
After you've cooked the leeks until they begin to wilt, it's time to add the white wine and bring the mixture to a boil. Now as you see in my picture, I accidentally added the chicken stock first. Well, it didn't make a damn bit of difference, so do it in whatever order you want.
I eventually added the wine, too, as well as the potatoes, bay leaves, pepper, and thyme. Now, the recipe suggested making a bouquet garni, or in other words, a little herb bundle that you would later pull out of the soup, but I'm not into that way of thinking. I want those herbs to stay in there! So I guess that's the part I changed about this recipe.
Simmer the soup for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful. This is where I ended up adding more salt, pepper, and thyme. Just add more seasoning to your taste. Also remember that you have little bits of bacon in there that, when pureed, will make the soup saltier, so don't salt it too much. You can always add some more later.
So after the 30 minutes, it was time for me to whip out my immersion blender! Yeah! I haven't used that thing in a very long time. Maybe years. It's pretty much gotten the shaft ever since Kitchen Aid Mixer came to town. But this soup was the perfect time to use it. It was fun to use, too! Be sure not to puree it too long or the potatoes will start want to emulsify and get a gummy texture to them. Don't worry, that won't happen right away, so don't be scared off by that. However, if you have one little chunk of potato here or there in the soup, just let it go rather than over-pureeing the soup.
Now finish the soup by stirring in your heavy cream and add more seasoning at this time if needed. Oh just look at that velvety texture!
When you serve it, don't forget the garnish! It makes a huge difference in this soup, so don't skimp. I garnished mine with some chives, bacon, and sour cream. If you want to make the cute little swirl (because you're a huge dork like I am), just spoon some sour cream into a sandwich bag, then cut one of the corners off so it turns into a little pastry bag. Then you can squeeze your design onto the soup. Enjoy!
Potato and Leek Soup
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003
Show: The Essence of Emeril
1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Trim the green portions of the leek and, using 2 of the largest and longest leaves, make a bouquet garni by folding the 2 leaves around the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Tie into a package-shaped bundle with kitchen twine and set aside. (Alternately, tie 2 leek leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme together in a piece of cheesecloth.)
Using a sharp knife, halve the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to rid the leek of any sand. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the reserved bouquet garni, chicken stock, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful.
Remove the bouquet garni and, working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Alternately, if you own an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot.) Stir in the creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately, with some of the snipped chives sprinkled over the top of each bowl of soup.