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St. Patrick’s Day Menu Ideas – Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

Leek & Potato Soup with Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles

With folks getting ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, it seemed only fitting to develop a Lent-friendly, vegetarian version of an Irish staple Leek & Potato Soup.  While I can’t confirm that any of my relatives ever ate this dish, and my mother never fixed it for us, as it is such a basic soup using just a few simple ingredients, I could see where it might have been on the table of my ancestors.  They left Fair Erin more than 150 years ago on one side of the family and longer ago than that on the other side, so I can’t really ask anyone about it to be sure.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I dressed up this recipe a wee bit with a Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuile, but had it not been a meat-free day, I would have been tempted to add a mound of the smoked bacon that I’d discovered at Gourmet Guild last weekend.

Leek & Potato Soup

Serving Size: at least 8 portions as a starter

Prep Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 c. Yellow Onion, chopped

3 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed

3 large Leeks, cleaned and chopped

4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter

4 c. Water

1 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tsp. Fresh Chives, chopped

Assembly:

Take one medium onion and chop it into about 1/4-inch sized pieces, making about 1 cup.  For a tutorial on an easy, quick method for chopping onions, please click here.

Peel potatoes.

Cut the potatoes into about 1-inch cubes and put them in a saucepan along with cold water.  Set them aside while cleaning and cutting the leeks.  Keeping them in water will stop them turning brown (oxidizing) before you are ready to cook them.

Potato slice

Nibble on end of potato that you didn’t add to the others.  What?  You didn’t cut off a bit of potato to have as a snack?  My dad always did that for me when I was little, so I keep the tradition today.  Raw, starchy, crunchy, and a bit teeth-coating, it’s a root vegetable textural thing.

Dirty Leeks

I love leeks, but they are a mess to clean and prepare.  My suggestion is to fix them last, after the onions and the potatoes, so the dirt is contained and it doesn’t travel to the other ingredients.

Cut off the root end of the leek.

Cut off and discard the tough, dark green ends of the leek.

Cut leek in half down the middle.

Eewww, see how dirty that is inside?  That is stuff we don’t want in the soup.

Angle the darker ends of the leeks away from you, so that the grit or dirt doesn’t wash back down to the cleaner part of the leek.  Roll around in your hands to make sure that you’ve cleaned them thoroughly.

Chop leeks into about 1-inch pieces.  They might even squeak at you when you chop the, as they are so clean!

Melt butter in large pot or Dutch oven over low heat until it gets frothy.

Add onions.

Add leeks.

Stir leeks and onions so that they are coated in the butter.  Let them cook for 2-3 minutes until glossy and the onions are translucent.

This is what they should look like – moisture sweated out and all glossy and shiny.  For the record, yes, I did remove that rogue speck of dirt that somehow made it in there.

Drain potatoes, keeping the water in which they were sitting as that will be added to the soup pot, too.  Put potatoes into pot along with the leeks and onions.

Stir potatoes to make sure that they get coated in a some of the sweated fat mixture.

Pour in 4 cups of the water that was drained from the saucepan in which they were sitting.  If there isn’t enough water leftover from that, just add all of the potato water and top it up with regular water to make 4 cups of liquid.

Bring mixture to a boil.  Turn the heat down and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes.  [If you are thinking about making the Cheddar Cheese-Chive Tuiles to go along with the soup, this would be a good point at which to start that, as the tuiles can set while you are working on the puréeing part of the recipe.

Test to make sure that the potatoes are cooked all the way through and that the leeks are very soft.  The potatoes should basically be on the verge of breaking apart when a knife is inserted all the way through them.

Turn off the heat.  With an immersion blender (one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment), purée the potato-leek-onion mixture until it is smooth and creamy.

Add salt and pepper and stir blend into the soup.  Taste.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve warm with the tuile draped lovingly over the side.  The warmth of the soup will allow it to melt lusciously into the dish so that you get a nutty, tangy bite of the cheese with each creamy spoonful of the soup.

Buon appetito and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!