21 May 2013

Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Broccoli

There is something about cool, rainy weather that makes one hungry for soup.  It works so well to warm the body and comfort a person when it's wet and dreary outside.  I realize that in many parts of the country, it's already quite warm.  Here in the Upper Midwest, though, it's 54 degrees and threatening thunderstorms.  Perfect soup weather!


Potato leek soup goes wonderfully with cool, damp days.  It feels creamy and indulgent, but this version is fairly low in calories and even has an extra nutritional boost with the addition of broccoli.  An added bonus is that it goes together very quickly and only gets one pot messy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium leek
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, cut into eigths (halved and each side quartered)
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 6 C water
  • salt and pepper


First things first:  Remove the top and bottom inch from the leek and split in half.  Slice the halves into roughly 1/4 inch thick pieces.


Now, because of the nature of the way leeks are grown, they tend to have a bit of dirt and sand trapped in them.  For this reason, it's important to rinse them very thoroughly (unless you just like that gritty texture...).  I do this by placing the sliced leeks in a large colander and running plenty of cold water over them, swishing them around with my hands to ensure that they all get a good rinse.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.  When the butter has melted and begun to froth a bit, add the chopped onions and stir.







When the onions are soft, add the leeks.  Stir well and let cook for a few minutes.

Now take your broccoli 'tree', as Bulldozer used to call them.  Cut off the florets and set aside.  Remove the outer tough layer from the stalk and chop the remaining part.

By now your leeks should have softened.  Give them another good stir to make sure they aren't sticking on the bottom and measure out your caraway seeds into your hand.  Rub them between your palms to crush them slightly as you add them to the leeks and onions.


Next, add your potatoes and broccoli.  Stir well and pour in the wine.  Cook for 2 minutes and then add the water.  It helps things move faster if you boil the water beforehand in a kettle (just remember to measure the water after you boil it, to get an accurate 6 cups).


Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer gently until the potatoes and broccoli are soft.

Using an immersion blender, whiz the soup until you have a creamy texture with just a few chunks left.  If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender or food processor, working in batches until you have all of the soup pureed.  However, I highly recommend a small immersion blender.  They aren't very expensive, they cut down the time spent on cooking and cleanup, and they minimize the risk of scalding oneself with hot soup.

And here you have it!  In about half an hour, you have a delicious, creamy soup that will warm you up in any season.  If you really want to be indulgent, crumble some crisp bacon and black pepper over the top of the soup just before serving.  Enjoy!