Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vegetable Stock and Potato Leek Soup

Stock-making is one of those things that makes me feel all pioneer-woman. It makes me feel industrious and thrifty and swarthy...ok, maybe not swarthy. But it's the perfect wintry weekend activity when you don't feel like leaving the house.

I've made chicken stock a few times before and loved the results, but this time I decided to try vegetable stock. You can pretty much substitute veggie stock for chicken stock in any given recipe, except maybe Chicken Noodle Soup, where I'd recommend using only chicken stock. The ATK recipe for Potato Leek Soup calls for 6 cups of chicken stock, but I substituted my homemade veggie stock and loved the results.

Vegetable Stock
*I used an 8 qt pot for this recipe

approx 4 quarts water (or whatever fits into your pot)
any veggies you have on hand!
salt and pepper

Note: If you want to be a true pioneer woman, you can save the tops of carrots and onions and such and freeze or refridgerate them for later stock use. If you've done this, dump all these into the pot. It's also a good idea to use items from your veggie drawer that are on their way out - not spoiled, of course, but those that you might not necessarily want to eat raw. We used the tops of the leeks for the Potato Leek Soup, some carrots, celery, and onions.


Put all your veggies into the stock pot and fill with cold water. Add about 2 tsps salt and some pepper (freshly ground if you're so inclined). Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 2 hours. Strain out the vegetables and pour into quart containers.

Then you're ready to make soup!

Potato Leek Soup
adapted from ATK

sweat those leeks!

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (you could substitute olive oil to make this a vegan recipe, but i don't think it would have quite the right flavor profile of this soup with French roots)
4 to 5 lbs leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed thoroughly
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (I substituted homemade veggie stock)
1 and 3/4 lbs red potatoes (5 medium) scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I peeled mine as well)
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried (I used dried)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat. Stir in the leeks and garlic. Cover and cook until the leeks are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

2. This is where I changed things up a bit - ATK recommends leaving the soup chunky and merely smashing some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken it. (Don't forget to discard the bay leaves). While I think this might be good, I really wanted my soup a bit creamier and smoother. I used my immersion blender (top 5 favorite wedding gifts) to blend the soup to a creamy texture, leaving a few chunky potatoes here and there.

A delicious light dinner

It keeps beautifully in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. I've been eating it for lunches this week - grate a little fresh Parmesan on top and it's heaven. And if you already have the stock on hand, it's a very fast recipe - done in under an hour.


Meghan Thompson said...

Yumm, I love potato leek soup! I'll have to try this one. The best potato leek soup I've ever had was on Mark and my Ireland choir tour. I'm always looking for a recipe to replicate it!

mindy said...

I made this last night! It was SO delish. I used three cloves of garlic and added one shallot. I made some bruschetta from the Dean and Deluca cookbook to pair with it--basically it's just toast rubbed with a raw garlic clove and brushed with olive oil (I used butter) and salt and pepper. It really set off the flavors in the soup.

Nothing like six tablespoons of European butter to set off the night!

Emily Y. said...

Yum, Mindy! That bruschetta sounds amazing. I think the additional shallot is a great idea. So glad you liked the soup!