Every month or so, I join several of my CHEFS colleagues for a potluck lunch. We're all food-loving cooking enthusiasts with a diversity of kitchen experiences and cooking skills. The cooking challenge is simple: make and share healthy dishes that use fresh, seasonal ingredients and accommodate specific dietary restrictions like gluten-free and low-fat.
The centerpiece of our recent lunch was my version of Jacques Pépin‘s garlic soup recipe from an episode of Essential Pépin. The soup was a light, creamy and flavorful purée, perfect for lunch. It would also be a delicious addition to any post-holiday, game day or winter meal.
I made the soup for three reasons: (1) my final CSA (community supported agriculture) veggie share contained the main ingredients: locally grown garlic, leeks and heirloom potatoes; (2) I love creamed soups that don’t use heavy cream as the thickening agent; and (3) I adore Monsieur Pépin, his cooking shows and his recipes.
Garlic shines as the soup’s key ingredient and flavor. Because you cook the cloves for a long time, the garlic taste is milder than you might expect and has none of the bite and heat of raw garlic. If you want a mellower garlicky flavor, make the soup the day before you need it and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. I think that a countertop blender like my KitchenAid blender creates the smoothest purée but an immersion or hand blender also works well. To prevent a too salty soup, adjust the seasonings after you purée the vegetables. Finally, I garnish the soup with what I call Italian ham croutons – thinly sliced spicy Capicola, cut into small squares that slow cook in a fry pan until they’re dry and chewy like jerky.
Garlic, Leek & Potato Soup Recipe from CHEFS Mix
Adapted from "Garlic Soup" by Jacques Pépin featured on his television show, Essential Pépin
2 large leeks
2 to 3 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 to 6 cups)
12 to 15 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup white or red wine, or water
7 to 8 cups chicken stock, low sodium
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
½ pound Italian ham like Capicola or Prosciutto, thinly-sliced (optional)
1. Prepare the leeks. For this recipe, you want to use as much of the dark green section as possible. Cut off the root end and trim only the tough, ragged edge of each dark green leaf.
Split each leek down the middle lengthwise and slice into 1-inch pieces. Separate the layers and place in a large colander or salad spinner basket. Wash thoroughly, tossing the leeks
gently under running water to remove all traces of dirt and grit. Drain well in colander or spin
in salad spinner.
2. Trim and peel garlic cloves. Cut large cloves in half. Set aside.
3. Peel potatoes then cut into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
4. Heat large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, turn heat to medium.
Add the leeks. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Let leeks cook down for 5 to 10 minutes. Leeks will soften and begin to caramelize; creating fond or brown bits on the pan bottom (this is a good thing).
5. Add diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 15 seconds.
7. Add wine or water and stir to deglaze pan. Cook for about 2 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate. Stir occasionally.
8. Add chicken stock and stir to mix. Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Then, lower heat and partially cover pot. Let boil gently for 30 to 45 minutes.
9. When vegetables are tender, remove pot from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes.
10. (Optional) While the soup is cooling, make ham “croutons.” Slice Italian ham into half-inch wide strips and then cut strips into 1-inch long sections. Separate the pieces. Heat nonstick skillet on medium. When pan is hot, add the ham. Cook, stirring often, until the ham releases its moisture and the meat is dry and chewy. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
11. Purée cooled vegetable mixture in a blender or food mill or with
an immersion/hand blender. Taste soup and adjust salt and pepper.
12. Reheat soup. When hot, taste again and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Just before serving, add butter, if desired, and stir to blend. Ladle hot soup into
bowls. Garnish with Italian ham croutons, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings
Categories: Food & Recipes