Monday, January 15, 2007

Soup's on (again)

Two soup posts in a row...guess I'm living up to the title of the blog. Here's the deal -- it is freaking *cold* in Southern California right now (in the 30s at night) and I was craving something light after last night's shellfish extravaganza. Enter, potato leek soup.

Now, I'm not going to claim that this is vichyssoise. Because, well, again I have followed no recipe (Are you sensing a trend?). Instead, I went with memory and instinct. Though it isn't the most photogenic of dishes, this nameless soup is comforting, complex, and full of flavor. You can call this "Healthy, Fast Potato Leek Soup," or call it "Kristel Sure Likes to Add Smoked Trout to Things," or just call it "Onion, Potato, Garlic, and Trout Stew"... whatever. Just make some the next time the wind is blowing, a chill is in the air, and you want a hot, nourishing something for dinner.

Onion, Leek, and Red Potato Soup, with Smoked Trout

serves 6-8


--2 tablespoons olive oil
--2 large sweet onions, roughly chopped
--2 leeks, thoroughly cleaned, and finely chopped
--6 cloves of garlic, diced
--pinch of rosemary (dried or fresh)
--salt and pepper, to taste (as you might guess, I use lots of both)

--10 cups of chicken stock (homemade is obviously your best bet)
--1 lb red potatoes, scrubbed, and finely diced (the smaller you cut them, the quicker the cooking time)
-- 2 to 3 tablespoons cream, milk, cream cheese, or butter (or their soy alternatives) (optional)

--1/3 cup pieces of smoked trout, per person (more if you can afford it)


1) Sautee the onions, leeks, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper in the olive oil, in a stock pot, on medium/low heat, for 8-10 minutes. You want the onions and leeks to wilt and get soft, but not caramelize. Stir at least once a minute. Add a few tablespoons of stock/oil/butter if the mixture dries out.

2) Add the chicken stock. Allow to come to a boil.

3) Add the potatoes. Bring back to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium, and put the lid over the majority of the pot -allowing a few inches for some steam to escape. Cook until the potatoes are soft, approximately 15 minutes.

4) Depending on your desired level of decadence, add a few tablespoons of cream/milk/cream cheese/butter or their soy alternatives. Stir.

5) Using a ladle, scoop the soup into a blender. Be very, very careful to only fill the blender (at most) 2/3 full. Hot liquids expand -- you could be in for a painful and messy evening if you add too much. Blend in batches, until the entire pot is pureed. (Conversely, you could use a good immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot itself or, you could leave it chunky and have it more stew-like).

To Serve:

Pour into bowls, and top with broken pieces of smoked trout. You could also garnish with a dollop if sour cream or a few croutons, if you wish).


This type of soup is often served cold. If you do so, increase the amount of rosemary and other seasonings in the soup. Cold dishes often numb the palate and need heavier doses of spices to impart the proper flavor.

I use red potatoes because I love the skins (in fact, I leave the skins on all the potatoes that I cook.) Potato skins are full of fiber, vitamins, and deliciousness -- however, if you hate them or you want a more elegant soup, feel free to peel away.

Finally, this soup is easily vegetarianized (use vegetable stock for the chicken stock and omit the trout) or veganized (use vegetable stock for the chicken stock, omit the trout, and use soy-based additions).

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