There are some classic soups that deserve to be made again and again. However, some of them don't do any favors to those of us who wish to wiggle into our favorite jeans. Creamy by nature, usually means full of cream and other such fattening things. Unwilling to give up one of my favorite hearty and comforting meals, potato leek soup, I decided to lighten things up a little.
This recipe starts with sautéing the leeks with garlic, fresh thyme, chili flakes and smoked paprika. If cleaning and chopping leeks baffles you, understandably so, check out this tutorial on How to: Prepare a Leek. This mixture is then simmered with vegetable broth and diced potatoes. The beauty of cooked potatoes is that they act as a thickening agent when pureed, and produce a silky, creamy soup.
A little word to the wise^Before you puree the soup in the blender, let the soup cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise you may end up with partially-pureed soup all over your ceiling and kitchen cabinets.
Creamy potato leek soup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, cut in half lengthwise, white & light green parts cut into thin half-circles (dark green parts discarded)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 5-1/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 8 thin slices plain or multi-grain baguette, cut into quarters
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and cook until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the diced potatoes and vegetable (or chicken) broth. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potato is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Be sure to season well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the baguette pieces, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and thyme. Toss to coat. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet.
- Bake until the cheese is melted and the croutons are toasted, about 5 minutes.
- Serve soup hot and garnish with croutons.