Thursday, July 29, 2010

Soothing & Savory Potato Soup

Good evening everyone! It's Thursday, which means the week is drawing to a close (did it zip by for anyone else? it seems like Monday was just yesterday!) Thursdays mark my return to the kitchen - which I always enjoy. On Thursdays, I typically like to make a larger meal. This is so we have leftovers when the weekend rolls around. Tonight's recipe (although slightly out of season) should yield a nice amount of leftovers so we don't have to cook that much this weekend - always a bonus (and it's better than eating out all weekend, both for you tummy and your wallet!)

Ever since I was a little kid, one of my favorite meals has always been my grandma's potato soup. Her version of the classic dish is a combination of potatoes, cheese and other seasonings that blend together to create a great creamy flavor. Despite other family member's best attempts, no one can ever duplicate my grandmother's recipe to perfection. We've come close - but we can never quite nail it. Is she withholding an ingredient? Possibly. What's more likely is we simply can't duplicate the one thing that every grandma puts into a recipe - love. (I know, it sounds cheesy - but it's better than accusing your grandmother of withholding a key ingredient to a recipe like it's the secret formula for world domination, right?)

Lately, I've been craving some form of potato soup. However, rather than attempting to duplicate something that can't be duplicated (after all - I am not, nor do I plan to ever become, a grandmother - thereby lacking the key 'grandmother's love' ingredient) I decided to try another path. In my mind, I've been making up a perfect combination of ingredients for my own, homemade, potato soup. However, some of the things I want to blend, I'm not 100% sold on yet (As far as flavor pairings go. I know the flavors will work together, I just am not sure if it's the flavors I'm looking for) So, I decided I needed a 'middle man' recipe. Something to use as a proof of concept when creating my dish. I found such a recipe in Jaime Oliver's cookbook - leek and potato soup - that would do quite nicely. So, my attempt at tonight's recipe is for two reasons, first - this dish looks quite good and I do love potato soup. Secondly - this recipe uses some of the combinations I want to try in my homemade potato soup and I want to taste test the results.

So, grab some potatoes and a large pot - and let's get cooking!

The Recipe: Leek And Potato Soup
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What You'll Need:

2 Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
2 Medium Onions
1 3/4 Quarts Of Chicken Broth (Roughly 7 cups)
1 Pound Of Leeks (Typically 1 leek is one pound)
2 Cloves Of Garlic
1 Pound Potatoes
Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper

I typically tell you to begin by pre-measuring your ingredients, but this week's recipe doesn't have a lot to pre-measure.

Begin by peeling and slicing the carrots into small sections. Slice your celery into roughly the same size of sections. Peel and chop your onions as well.

Wash and slice the leek. Begin by chopping off the root end and then making a long vertical cut up the stalk of the leek. Next, rotate the leek and make the same cut on the opposite side. I've found that making two additional vertical cuts - one to each side of your first cut, makes the leek a little easier to chop. Next, making horizontal cuts, about a 1/2 inch a apart all the way up the stalk until you reach the medium green color. I prefer to dice my leek into smaller portions, but you can simply use the sizes you end up with after these cuts. It's all a matter of personal preference. Once you're finished with the leek, peel and slice the garlic cloves as well.

Get rid of that nasty root

And slice the leek up

All chopped up

Pour your broth into a medium pan on high heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, place a large pot on high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix in all of your chopped ingredients into the pot and stir well with a wooden spoon. Stirring every few minutes, cook until the carrots have softened and the onions and leek begin to turn slightly golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes.

While you are cooking up your veggies, you can begin to peel and slice the potatoes. If possible, try to dice the potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes. This makes cooking faster - as well as makes blending a little simpler if you choose to do so later.

The potatoes are diced and ready to go 

Everything cooking away nicely 

By now, your broth should be bubbling away happily and your veggies should be nice and golden brown. If so, pour in the broth with the veggies and stir in your cubed potatoes as well. Stir everything together well and then return the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat, place a lid on the pot and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

First the broth...

Then the taters 

After 10 minutes, you have a decision to make. You can either serve the soup as it is, or you can opt to use an immersion blender and mix everything together to make a nice smooth soup. I opted to use our immersion blender - because,'s fun to use!

Before you begin, remove the pot from the heat - you don't want it to still be cooking away while you are blending.

Using an immersion blender - practical and FUN 

Add a nice pinch of salt and pepper to the soup before using the blender. As I found during my sweet potato and chorizo soup recipe, the best way to blend the soup is to hold the blender just below the surface of the soup and wait until it 'sucks down'. Then - you'll want to slowly rotate the blender in a small section of the pot until you feel the soup 'let go'. The blender should be able to be easily pulled back to the surface. That's how you know that everything in that area is finely blended. Repeat the process around the entire pot until everything is blended smoothly. Once that's done, all that's left to do is serve up and enjoy!

The Results:

It was while attempting to get this shot that I dropped my camera in the soup...more on that below

Delightful! The final dish had this deep, almost vegetable stew like flavor. You could taste the perfect blend of onion, leek and chicken broth - all tied together with a rich potato base. I think blending the soup is the way to go, however, if you love chunky veggies in your soup - skip the blending and dive right in. Either way, it's a can't miss dish.

In the end, I didn't duplicate my grandmother's recipe - but I really wasn't trying to. What I did do, however, is validate a proof of concept. I now know that the flavor combination I have in my mind will work. Now, with a little more research I will be able to create my ultimate potato soup! (I'm really excited about this prospect!)

This one is certainly worth an attempt for those at home. It is relatively easy to tackle and delivers a fantastic final result. Give it a shot, it's worth it!

Here's a first for you - I dropped my camera INTO the bowl of potato soup. Oops. I bet I'm one of the first people to ever have 30% of their digital camera covered in potato soup! Luckily, after a good cleaning, everything seems to still be in working condition. So, if you're looking for a potato soup proof camera - Canon makes a good one!

Also, after giving it some thought today - we've decided to pull the poll regarding Maggie's Wednesday recipes. Our thought process behind this move is simple - we started this blog as a way to share the experiences of two non-chefs as they took on the culinary world. That is what this blog is - and how it will remain. Our entire point is to take recipes that seem 'out of this world' or out of reach and bring them down to a normal level. Essentially, it's two non-chefs showing you how to cook like a chef. There hasn't been a single recipe on the blog so far that you cannot get home from work and make yourself. How do I know? Because that's how we do it. When we get off of work, we set to cooking dinner. It's on the table at a reasonable hour and it's never as complicated as it seems in the book.

We feel that making Wednesdays into a set style would completely ruin the integrity of what we're going for. We're not a 30 minute meal website - (although a lot of our recipes can be done in that time). Don't fall into the trap of thinking just because a recipe isn't 'simple' on the outside, that a normal working person couldn't master it. We've shown you everyday that thought simply isn't true. Maggie and I are two hard working, non chefs that come home each night and cook fantastic culinary creations. We're showing you, dear reader, that you too can tackle what seems impossible. That's what this blog is about and that's what we're going to keep it as. I should have thought that through more before posting the poll last night.

I went a little long winded on 'what we're about' there for two reasons; to explain to our dedicated readers the change in what we just said last night and to give a little introduction to our new readers. Our little blog has been growing by the day and we've more than tripled our daily views from when we started out. As such, I felt another 'what we're all about' was in order for our new readers. So - there you are everyone - that's what we're all about. Thanks for reading everyday and here's hoping you find it as enjoyable as we do!

That's all we have for you tonight. We're off tomorrow but have a busy weekend planned for you. Be sure to stop by Saturday evening AND Sunday evening to see what we've been up to. Until then,



  1. Sounds good - just a suggestion - if you want a creamy potato colored soup - you could use the immerson blender on the potatoes only and add the veggies once the potatoes are to desired consistency. That way you have a creamy potato soup with chucks of veggies. Just a thought.

  2. Actually, that's my plan for my homemade potato soup recipe. :)