i was serving a large dinner party – so this recipe yields roughly 16-20 servings or two large pots of soup. the recipe could very easily be halved to make one large pot of soup or even quartered if you want to make just a few servings. i froze the additional soup that we had leftover at the end of the night. freezing is a great solution to cooking in excess as well! it’s really nice to have frozen meals on hand for busy evenings or days where the weather is drab & you don’t feel much like cooking.
i should add also that because i do not own one of those super awesome, gigantic stock pots that sits really tall – i had to resort to two large, shorter stock pots. meaning that if you are going to do the same thing as i, you will want to split these ingredients evenly/divide them between the two pots.
hearty winter potato & leek soup
1 large onion, rinsed & chopped
2 medium leeks, washed up properly & chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 medium russet potatoes, skin on, washed well & cut into small cubes
1 lb. bacon or bacon ends, cooked and cut into small pieces
16 C. [two 32 oz. containers] low-sodium, organic vegetable or free-range, organic chicken broth
1 stalk/head of celery, washed up properly & diced | let me clarify: [definitions for celery have become quite blurry these days – but in any of my recipes single sticks will be listed as ribs and an entire head will always be referred to as a stalk. **ahem** which is how it should be in all recipes, might i add. seriously. read about it.]
10 carrots, washed up properly & diced
1-2 hot pepper(s), washed up properly & diced, seeds left in or taken out is up to you in its entirety [i used a fairly large pepper (probably 4 inches in length, a hybrid of the pasilla chile pepper) from our garden that had some really nice heat. i left the seeds in for added spice. you could use a jalapeno here, any pepper(s) of choice, or simply omit it altogether if you can’t handle heat. however, it did add really nice flavor to the soup. and my children ate it which says something about the level of spiciness.]
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 C. whole milk [if you have 1% or 2% on hand, the world isn’t going to end – but whole will definitely be better]
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 C. half-and-half [if you happen to have heavy cream lying around and no half-and-half on hand, again, the world isn’t going to end – you’ll just wind up with an even thicker soup in the end]
for topping (optional):
½ C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ bunch scallions, chopped
½ bunch fresh chives, chopped
in your soup pot(s), on medium/high heat cook bacon until crispy. remove bacon from pot(s), however, save some of the excess grease in there for the next step. wait for the bacon to cool before chopping into small pieces. set to the side for later use.
to the remaining bacon grease, add the chopped onion, leeks, garlic, celery, carrots, and hot pepper(s). let them sweat for a few minutes on medium/high heat, stirring occasionally.
add the diced potatoes, season it all with salt, pepper & anything else you may fancy that you think will make your soup the tastiest ever, and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes.
pour in all of the broth and bring to a boil for 12-15 minutes or until the potatoes and vegetables are tender.
with a whisk, blend flour into milk.
add milk/flour mixture and cook a few minutes longer.
at this point – you can follow my instructions in the next step, or, if you prefer a less creamy, more chunky soup, don’t and move on just below the blending directions to adding the cream. i highly recommend at least blending a small portion of your soup to thicken the consistency & add smoothness.
if you have never made a soup that needs to be blended, i like noshon.it’s guide to blending hot liquids. you can avoid explosions, burns & blending disasters by following the simple steps provided on their site.
if you’re lucky enough to own an immersion blender, give yourself a hard high-five and then use that incredible blender in the soup pot(s). i, however, do not and had to transfer half of each pot to my food processor. i prefer using the food processor over a blender in this step because it allows for more control over the consistency of the blended portion. i recommend blending half of the soup fairly well and then adding it back in. all recipes differ as to the amount you should blend. honestly, it’s just personal preference for texture & consistency. so do whatever you like best.
once part of the soup has been blended and mixed back in, you can add the half-and-half. if you prefer heavy cream to provide a more thick, heavy consistency, you can certainly use that in place of the half-and-half i have listed.
add half of the bacon to the soup directly and use the other half for garnish.
serve garnished with toppings of your choice [bacon, scallions, sharp cheddar, chives]. xx