Thursday, April 1, 2010

In anticiption of potatoes ...

In another of my valiant attempts to encourage Spring to come along, I planted potatoes in three big pots yesterday.
Apparently in 12-14 weeks time, if I water well during dry periods (I am not anticipating many of these!), under a lot of green leaves and white-tipped purple flowers, I will be the proud owner of a crop of King Edward potatoes.

So in the true spirit of all things rustic and bucolic, I made a really velvety flavour-some soup with the humble potato (the bought variety) and some leeks.

For my Smokey Leek and Potato soup, you will need:

1 large knob butter
1 tblsp oil
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves smoked garlic
4 medium potatoes
3 leeks, dark green tops removed, and the remainder finely sliced
750mls chicken/vegetable stock
1 tblsp cream or 1 glass of milk if you want the more healthy option.
Salt and pepper
Smoked pancetta, diced

Heat the butter and a small drop of oil (the oil will prevent the butter from burning) in a large pan which has a lid, turn the heat to low and gently sweat the onion and garlic for 2 minutes with the lid on.
Add the chopped leeks and diced potatoes.

Continue to sweat the vegetables for another 8-10 minutes, stirring them intermittently. The vegetables will be vibrant and glistening at this point.
Pour in the stock and place the lid on. Simmer gently until the potatoes are soft enough to blend but not breaking up. This should not take longer than about 10 minutes.
Blend it and you will have a really nice velvety, slippery but not too thin soup. Stir in the cream and enough milk so that the soup reaches a consistency that you are happy with.

In a small frying pan, add some diced pancetta and fry it until it is crispy.

Taste the soup at this point and see if it needs some salt and pepper, bearing in mind the pancetta will add a little saltiness also.
Sprinkle some pancetta over the soup and serve.

We ate this with some chewy country bread and some very nice ossau-iraty sheeps cheese - you could even sprinkle some over the soup to serve.

Cooks notes – a lot of recipes which I read for leek and potato soup remove all the green from the leeks and only use the whites. I think that the green leaves give the soup a nice colour. So leave some green on and only trim off the tough upper dark green parts.

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