The season of soups and stews is in full swing! I’ve always been curious about trying a leek and potato soup, with its earthy flavors and creamy texture. However, let me preface the rest of this post by saying that this isn’t Julia Child’s famous recipe. I wanted a healthier version that didn’t use heavy cream. I came across a vegetarian version of the soup on Life As a Strawberry, but used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock and also changed up the way I dealt with the potatoes. On a gloomy day like today, I thought I’d share my version below!
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, roughly chopped (rinsed thoroughly to remove any dirt)
4 large yukon gold potatoes, roughly chopped (I used 3 red potatoes and 1 russet for this post because…that’s what I had in the pantry)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup milk
In a large saucepan or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
When oil is hot, add leeks, potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes or until leeks have softened.
Add vegetable stock to pot and stir to combine.
Strip leaves from thyme sprigs and add to pot. Stir to combine.
Bring soup to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and easily pierced with a fork.
Add milk to soup and stir to combine.
Remove soup from heat and carefully remove potatoes from the soup, and place them in a large bowl. Mash potatoes with a potato ricer (or pastry blender in a pinch!). Blend the remaining liquid contents of the soup in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender.
Stir riced potatoes back into the soup, and season with salt and pepper as needed.*
*I don’t like the idea of blending potatoes, because the blending process changes the potato texture to be gummy. This soup won’t be silky smooth, but I prefer that texture to that of gummy potatoes. That being said, if you don’t mind that glue-y texture and really need the soup to be silky smooth, use an immersion blender to blend all ingredients together in step 7 instead of removing the potatoes and mashing them separately.
Yes, I am fully aware of how very not photogenic this soup is. We can toss this into the as-tasty-as-it-is-ugly category!
If your soup is too thick after blending, thin it out with a splash of milk or vegetable stock. Too thin? Bring it back to a simmer and cook until it’s reached your desired consistency.
This soup is easy to make in advance and it freezes well.
To make this soup vegan, replace the milk with additional vegetable stock, coconut milk, or almond milk, and omit the heavy cream.
For Valentine’s Day (YES…still backlogged!), I was charged with making dinner for Kevin and I, and wanted to make something a little out of the ordinary. I remember really being wowed by the porcini-rubbed delmonico that I had at a work dinner at The Capital Grille a couple of years ago. After some googling, I found a video tutorial on how to make the porcini rub Mario Batali uses at his amazing restauraunt, Osteria Mozza. The sugar in the rub helps develop the char and “steakhouse” crust you want while cooking, and the porcini powder adds a divine earthy flavor.
The original recipe calls for one 3 1/2 pound steak, but I decided to do two 1 pound steaks (which was still pretty aggressive). Here is a recipe as adapted from Mario Batali, Food & Wine magazine, and several gchat sessions with my dear friend Chef Seong. I had always made steaks using a nonstick frying pan and had gotten by just fine, but for a rib-eye, I really wanted those steakhouse-style char marks. We don’t have room for a real grill, but after a number of persuasive conversations with Shirley and Spencer, I decided to buy a cast iron grill pan to try and cook these steaks with. I also had been thinking of getting a kitchen scale for some time, and read that this compact Tanita one had great reviews. What better excuse to buy it than for weighing the porcini mushrooms for the rub! Okay it ended up being a more expensive dinner than originally intended.
2 oz dried porcini
1/2 T red pepper chili flakes
1/4 C sugar
2 T kosher salt
2 T freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
good quality olive oil
Two 1 pound bone-in rib-eye steaks (about 1″ thick)
PORCINI RUB DIRECTIONS:
Roughly chop the porcini, and then grind in a blender – slowly at first, and then gradually increase the speed.
Add in red pepper flakes and blend to mix. Mix salt, pepper, and sugar together and then add the porcini-chili flake mixture together. You will have plenty of rub left over to make these steaks again – and you will want to!
Dust your rib-eye with the rub. Wrap a piece of kitchen twine around the steak, and drizzle on some olive oil and rub that in too. The rub will turn into more of a thick paste with the consistency of wet sand.
Flip the steak and repeat. Tie a piece of kitchen twine tightly around the perimeter of the steak. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
About 1 hour prior to grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Brush off the excess marinade paste with a paper towel (THIS IS IMPORTANT). Place on a plate and let come to room temperature. I forgot to do this and my steak ended up pretty spicy from the chili flakes.
Pre-heat a gas grill or grill pan. If you are going to use a charcoal grill, preheat that but use enough coals to keep the fire going for about 20 minutes.
Put the steak on the hottest part of the grill, cover and cook, turning every 5 minutes, for about 12-13 minutes for medium-rare doneness. The internal temperature should be 127-128°F (thanks Seong!). Transfer to a carving board and let it rest for 30 minutes or more. The steak will continue to cook another 5-7 degrees internally once it’s off the grill, and if you cut into it too soon, you’ll let all of those delicious juices out.
Steak newb’s note: If you use a meat thermometer, make sure the end is smack dab in the middle of the steak. I think I stuck the point in a little too deep so it measured the temperature closer to the grill pan than it should have. Our steaks were actually a bit undercooked when all was said and done, though still tasty.
I paired these with some “smashed potatoes”. Quick recipe is as follows: Boil a pound of small potatoes (yukon gold in my case) for 8 minutes (until fork tender) in generously salted water. After draining and cooling the potatoes slightly, brush some oil onto a baking sheet lined with foil. After lightly crushing each potato on sheet with your palm into 1/2″ thickness, brush potatoes with oil. Roast until golden and crisp about 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet about halfway through the cooking time.
For an appetizer, we had a DELICIOUS beet and burrata salad atop some prosciutto and arugula. I found the easy recipe on The Organic Kitchen and admittedly this was more of a me dish than Kevin because it had all of my favorite things in it – roasted beets and burrata, prosciutto, and it even called for pistachios to be sprinkled on top! And thank you Thomas for our lovely serving dish!
So… I probably bit off more than I could chew making everything in between work and dinner time. I admittedly did not make the perfect steak (overspiced, undercooked), but with less ADD next time I’ll get it right. In all it’s imperfect glory, the steak was still delicious and there were no leftovers. Most importantly, we topped off the meal with mini molten chocolate lava cakes a la mode that I will for sure post separately about at a later time. They were too good not to!