It is cold. Like, super, stupid cold. I think
today is yesterday was the coldest one we’ve had yet this winter. I know that there is much worse to come, so I should probably stop complaining—in early February, today’s frigid 33 degrees will look like a tropical heat wave—but I won’t. Brrrr. It doesn’t help that my apartment is also frigid at all times. For some reason our heat doesn’t really kick in until late January and, unless I feel like disassembling the ancient, paint-caked, radiator covers with my teeth, there’s not a thing I can do about it. Except wear warm socks and make soup. Lots and lots of soup.
I know what you’re thinking: that looks a whole lot more like broccoli soup than potato soup, Cali. Yes, well, that would have to do with my overzealous arugula usage. But trust me, this is amongst the most potato-y potato soups I’ve ever had. And frankly, the green is kinda purdy.
Let’s talk about potatoes. Is there anything more comforting? Mashed, roasted, baked, boiled; peasant food at it’s warm, starchy best. What do you crave when you’re hungover? Pasta with tomato sauce…for breakfast…but that’s just me. Most of you normal folk probably want potatoes. Home fries with ketchup and a runny egg (poached, please!) will cure, or at least temper, any hangover. I used to judge brunch establishments by their potatoes and still think that it’s a good measure; to me, the ability to produce good potatoes is kind of like being able to properly scramble some eggs-nonnegotiable. Potato soup has to be the home fries of the soup crowd-creamy and warming and filling and cozy. Nom.
Now lets talk about roasting. I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned this before, but in my mind, roasting is just simply the best way to concentrate flavor and, therefore, cook almost anything. Most soups involve boiling your ingredients together. You may sauté some first, and you may pureé some after, but usually, most of the ingredients are simply boiled. I loves me some soup, and this tactic has always worked for me, but when I ran across this recipe in, yet again, The Ina’s Back to Basics, I knew I’d be making this soup. Roasted. Potatoes. Leeks. Arugula. Pureed. Yes. Please.
The original recipe was quite heavy on the cream/cheese/dairy, which I imagine would make an incredibly decadent winter soup. But with the Holidays fast approaching, and the fact that I seem to have replaced half my water consumption with wine in the past week, I made some health-conscious substitutions and cuts. The result is still the most delicious, truly potato-y, hearty, semi-decadent soup. The recipe calls for pureeing in a food processor and, though this is the easiest method, I find that my food processor doesn’t get things quite as smooth as my blender. I don’t mind a little texture, but if you really want a silky soup, I would suggest the blender, followed by a sieve. Whatever method you choose, I promise you won’t be disappointed; this soup with warm you to the core.
Roasted Potato Leek Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics. Makes 4-6 servings.
Arugula and leeks are both very very sandy, so you need to wash them well. The easiest way to wash leeks is to slice them and drop them into a bowl of cold water. Swish them around well and all the sand will sink away. I made quite a few changes to the original recipe; the recipe below includes these. I think this recipe needs some acidity; I used white wine vinegar, but lemon juice would be delicious. Remember that potatoes don’t freeze so well, so I wouldnt freeze this particular soup either.
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
4 c. chopped leeks, white and light green parts (about 4 leeks)
2 T. olive oil
3 c. baby arugula, lightly packed
1/2 c. dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. half and half
1/3 c. light sour cream
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
- Heat oven to 400°F
- Spread the potatoes and leeks in an even layer on the sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, and roast for 40-45 minutes, or until tender. Toss them regularly
- Add the arugula to the sheet pan and roast for another 5 min, or until wilted
- Place the sheet pan over 2 burners on the stove. Add the wine and a cup of broth and deglaze the pan, scraping up the crispy bits
- Puree the vegetables in a food processor in batches, adding chicken broth, as needed, to form a thick puree
- Transfer the pureed vegetables to a heavy soup pot over medium heat
- Add the remainder of the broth until you obtain a thickness you like
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
- Add the half & half, sour cream, white wine vinegar and parmesan
- Season to taste