After a few weeks of perfectly warm and sunny weather, we folks here in Southern California got hit with a bit of rain today. Big deal, you’re probably thinking to yourself if you live anywhere but here, but here in Los Angeles, it’s kind of odd when it rains after the end of March. We really don’t know what to do with ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the rain. It’s still coming down as I write this, and since both Choo and Kiddo are in bed dreaming big dreams, I have everything turned off so I can listen to it.
Still, the funniest thing I overheard today, while in the parking lot of the local u-pick farm and farmstand was a man worrying over the whole family getting pneumonia while spending the morning in barely drizzling 58° degree weather. Yeah, we’re a city of weather wimps.
It was a perfect day for me to go stomp around in the fields; I picked a nice mess of fava beans, some red leaf lettuce, and a bag full of leeks.
I love that shade of green. This was a new experience, pulling leeks out of the ground. It really was incredibly satisfying to do it, to tell the truth. By the way, for my Southern California readers, we were at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark. We get out there about twice a year, once around this time, and again in the late summer–luckily, they do the farmer’s market circuit, so I see them at the Calabasas, Encino, and Hollywood farmer’s markets–it’s an easier trip. Highly recommended, especially if you’ve got kids.
I digress. Back to soup!
I pulled out seven slender leeks, which, once home, were washed, trimmed, and sliced into thin half-moons.
These were tossed into a soup pot with a few tablespoons of melted butter waiting for them. This soup calls for the leeks to be cooked on a low heat, slowly, until they’re glossy and soft, and you know that if you pulled out a bite of them, they’d melt in your mouth.
When the leeks are tender, after about 15 minutes, a few sprigs of thyme get tossed into the pot.
I don’t know about you, but I really like fresh thyme. The one thing I don’t like about it is trying to strip the leaves from the stems–it’s one of those fiddly jobs that just gets in the way of things. But, you know what’s great? When making a soup or a stew with fresh thyme, it’s okay to just throw the whole stem in during the cooking process. The heat and the simmering will cause the leaves to come off the stem, and all you need to do is just fish the stems out at the end.
To these lovely leeks, add four large-ish peeled and chopped russet potatoes. I like using russets for this soup for the fact that they do fall apart, creating a thick texture. The one warning is to not overcook and overwork the potatoes–depending on how big the chunks are, the simmer time shouldn’t be more than 15-20 minutes–just long enough so the potatoes are tender and will easily crush with the back of a spoon.
Once the potatoes are in, then chicken stock (or vegetable stock) is added, just enough to cover the potatoes. In this case, a quart was the perfect amount. Bring the pot up to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Now, I used an immersion blender–I feel like I get more control on pureeing than what I get out of a regular stand blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, don’t fret, you can use a regular blender, but only puree about half of the soup, and smash some of the larger chunks of potato. Only pulse the blender a few times to smooth it out–if the potatoes are overworked, what will happen is too much of the starch in the potatoes get released, and you’ll end up with wallpaper paste. This is a soup where chunks are good and are to be expected.
This is, also, where you put in some half and half. Or heavy cream, if you’re daring. Or low-fat milk, if you’re not. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
My perfect end to a rainy Sunday: curling up on the couch with a blanket and a steaming bowl of soup, and watching The Simpsons with the family.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts–appx. 6-7 leeks)
- 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (low-sodium or homemade), more if needed
- 1/2 cup half and half
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, melt butter on low heat. Add leeks and sweat for about 15 minutes, until soft and tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add thyme sprigs, saute for one minute. Add potatoes, and add enough stock to just cover contents of the pot. Bring heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Turn down to low, and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Turn off heat, and with an immersion blender, pulse to puree soup, but still leaving somewhat chunky.
- Stir in half & half and return to a low heat for a few minutes.
- Season with salt & pepper to taste.