When I mentioned to him today that I was going to make potato-leek soup for dinner he said, totally predictably, "Ooh I love that." He is a good and supportive man because honestly, when I made this soup years ago I thought it was gummy, a little like leek-scented library paste. But he still liked it. I realized my error right away: pureeing the potatoes with an immersion blender. Normally, my immersion blender is my bestie. I should craft some sort of holster so I can have it on my hip, at the ready, whenever there is pureeing to be done. But pureeing potatoes with an immersion blender? Bad idea. Unless you are trying to hang wallpaper and are in need of adhesive.
Remember what I said up there about Husband being a good and supportive man? He came to my (and, really, his own) gummy-potato rescue when he bought me a food mill and a ricer the following Christmas, during which time he happened to be unemployed. Yes, Husband shelled out some of his diminishing cash to outfit me with several alternate methods for pureeing food. If that's not love, I do not know what is.
This soup is a lovely shade of spring green, creamy with fluffy riced potatoes and a little sharp with leeks. It is rich, and verdant, and filling. What it is not: gummy. You live, you learn, you get a ricer, you marry the man who bought you the ricer, your potato soup improves drastically.
3 lbs. baking potatoes (about 4 large potatoes), peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 c. + 2 T. olive oil
2 lbs. leeks, tops removed, halved and sliced
1/4 of a medium onion, chopped
3 ribs celery (with leafy tops), chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly-cracked black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 t. dried thyme
32 oz. chicken stock
2 c. water
1 c. heavy cream
Place the potatoes and a pinch of salt in a large pot of cold water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they yield easily to a fork. Drain, then run through a ricer directly into the dry cooking pot. (If you don't have a ricer, return the drained potatoes to the cooking pot and mash with a potato masher.) Set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, place the olive oil, leeks, onion, celery, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme in a large pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and water. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for about 15 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf. Puree the soup using an immersion blender. (You can also do this in batches in a regular blender, but the immersion blender is so much easier; really, go out and buy yourself one. You can get them at Target.)
Add the riced potatoes to the pureed soup and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary (potatoes take a lot of salt). Add the heavy cream and stir through. Cook for about 5 more minutes, then serve. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or a few crisp croutons or even some crème fraîche, if you wish.
Makes about 12 servings.