The leek has been with us a long time. The Egyptians were eating it pretty regularly by 2000 B.C. If figures heavily in many Mediterranean and Western European Cuisines. The Romans liked them a lot. The French use them in the wonderful vichyssoise, the Romans ate them in soup or sautéed in oil. The Scots cock-a-leekie soup is basically chicken broth, the cock part, and leeks, the leekie part. And so on. This is just a smooth, rich, tasty leek soup.
Makes 6 servings.
|8||medium leeks, about 3 lbs., just the white and light green, chopped|
|1||medium onion, chopped|
|1||large carrot, chopped|
|2||celery ribs, chopped|
|1||small boiling potato, half pound or a little less, chopped|
|½||cup||dry white wine|
|1-1/2||cups||flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped|
|½||cup||chilled heavy cream, whipped or crème fraiche|
Rough chop or slice the leeks, rinse and wash them, then drain pretty well. You can use a salad spinner if you’ve got one, or drain and pat dry with towels.
Cook the leeks, onion, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat until the things are softened. Stir every now and then; it should take 8 to 10 minutes.
Chop up the potato and add it to the pot with the wine, stock, water, and bay leaf. Bring things to a boil, back off the heat and simmer with the pot partially covered for about 15 minutes. Make sure the veggies are nice and tender. About potatoes: I don’t peel potatoes unless there is a really good reason. Most of the flavor and nutrition is in the skin, so why throw it away? You can peel them if you want.
Toss the bay leaf out and add in the chopped parsley. Stir occasionally, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Keep the soup at the lowest simmer you can get while you prepare a roux.
In a small, heavy saucepan over medium to low heat: melt the other ½ stick of butter, when the foam dies down but before the butter turns color stir in the flour. Keep whisking and carefully regulate heat so as not to overheat until the roux starts to color golden – just a couple of minutes. Begin adding 2 cups of stock slowly, whisking constantly. Then add the mix back into the soup pot, whisking constantly. If you don’t temper the roux first is will just lump up when you dump it in and you will have a little roux dumpling.
Run through your blender in batches. You don’t want to fill a blender more than about 1/3 full for this. Or a food processor. Or an immersion blender (stick blender) in the pot. Anyway, get everything nicely ground up pretty much to a puree. By the way – if you are using a blender hold the top down firmly, especially when starting. You would not believe how much force a thick, hot stock can generate when the blender starts.
Return to the pot and reheat if necessary. Taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve warm. Top with whipped cream or crème fraiche.
You can make the whipped cream with just a hand mixer – beat until it just starts to make soft peaks, no further.
Crème fraiche is something that the French have used forever, but has only been available in this country recently. It is a very mild and tasty soured cream – yeah, I know that the name misleads. The only place that I have found the real deal is at the local Whole Foods. This stuff is much better than the standard harsh sour cream that you are used to. Worth making an effort to find if you can. The US pasteurizing laws prohibit the standard French processing. An outfit named Kendall Farms has figured out how to make the real deal. You can order from Amazon, but it is really expensive. http://www.kendallfarmscremefraiche.com/ for information. You might also find it in a specialty import shop. I bet it’ll cost you.