Garlicky Potato Leek Soup
Winter is still lingering, and I am tired of it. I’m even tired of whining about it. I’m bored with sweaters, weighed down by scarves and coats. I need some comfort, and probably a goodly dose of vitamin C to get me through the early spring cold season. What’s a Yankee to do? Make soup, of course.
This garlicky potato leek soup is comforting and healthful, packed with extra nutrition as well as rich flavor. If you are a potato-leek-soup purist, then by all means leave out the cauliflower. However, it’s an easy way to boost the nutrition of this dish without adding many calories. Cauliflower contains loads of antioxidants, including more than 90% RDA of vitamin C in a 1 cup serving. It’s no slouch when it comes to B vitamins, fiber, and potassium, either. I used a gorgeous head of golden cauliflower from our local food co-op, which colored the soup a deep, cheerful sunflower yellow.
Garlicky Potato Leek Soup
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 large leeks
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs
1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk
1 bay leaf
8 0z. Yukon gold potatoes
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Optional: (up to) 2 cups cauliflower florets
Because of their shape, leeks collect all kinds of mud and grit between their layers. The easiest way to clean them is to start by peeling off the outer layer of skin.
The leeks will float. Agitate them with your fingertips to loosen the dirt. Let the bowl sit for about 5 minutes, and all the dirt and grit will sink to the bottom of the bowl, allowing you to skim the clean leeks off the top. Pat the leeks dry with a kitchen towel.
Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the sliced leeks and smashed garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks begin to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wash, peel, and chop the potatoes.
Add the potatoes and bay leaf to the pot along with the cauliflower florets, if using. Stir to combine, then pour in 3 cups of the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a boil, then lower the heat and partially cover the pot. Simmer the vegetable for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and cauliflower feel very tender when poked with a fork.
Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. Discard the bay leaf. Using a stick blender, food processor, or blender, puree the soup until smooth. If the soup is too thick for your liking, stir in the additional chicken broth a bit at a time until the soup reaches the desired consistency. Then stir in 1/4 cup sour cream (or buttermilk) and the fresh herbs. I used thyme because it’s what I had on hand, but marjoram, tarragon, parsley, or a bit of sage would all work just as well, depending on what you like. Reheat the soup slowly until hot, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
This soup keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer, and reheats beautifully — just be careful not to let it boil once you’ve added the sour cream or buttermilk. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread and a salad for a quick, nutritious, comforting weeknight meal.