You know how good the kitchen smells when you start a recipe by sauteing garlic and onions? Quintuple that when starting out with leeks! If you haven't worked with them before, they're milder than onions, with a nice floral note. Add to that some butter and your taste buds will be in full gear when you've barely even started.
This is a great winter comfort soup that can easily be tailored to your own preferences. I used a little lemon juice for a hit of acid, but maybe you have an open bottle of white wine and want to use that instead, or you want more texture in your soup, so rather than creating a puree, you might want to leave the leeks whole and just mash the potatoes. You could also use a different type of potato - I used a mix of russet and sweet potato. Just use your imagination. Potatoes are a fabulous neutral background for adding other ingredients to ... as we all know from the loaded baked potato, potato skins, potato chips and dip, etc.
If you are hesitant about heat, don't worry about the jalapenos here - just make sure to cut away the pith and seeds, and the heat will cook off for the most part, leaving you with just the flavor.
The leeks at my grocery store were ginormous, so I used one that seemed like it was the size of a tree. Normally, I would use two or three average-sized leeks for this, so don't be confused by the photos if you notice just one leek.
2-3 large leeks, sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 T butter
4 lg russet potatoes, diced
2 lg sweet potatoes, diced (reserve a piece for garnish - optional)
Salt and Pepper
Chicken broth and/or water (+/- 32 oz)
1 T dill
(Optional: Diced crisped prosciutto or pancetta, grated raw sweet potato, a dollop of yogurt, snipped fresh chives, etc. for garnish)
- As you will see from the photos, leeks tend to be very gritty, so start by slicing and thoroughly rinsing them in the big bowl of water, allowing the grit to settle to the bottom; lift the leeks out of the water and transfer to paper towels or a clean dish towel to blot dry
- Saute the leeks, jalapeno, and garlic in the 2T of butter until the leeks are wilted down and tender; will take a good 10" or so, stirring frequently, and seasoning with a pinch of salt and a good amount of black pepper (amt of salt will depend on whether you will be using a salty garnish)
- Stir in the potatoes and sweet potatoes, then enough broth and/or water just to cover
- Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 10-15"
- Turn off heat and stir in the dill, along with the juice from half a lemon
- In batches, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender, allowing for steam to escape
- If you like your soups on the thinner side, just add a bit more water or broth
- Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired - I used a little crispy prosciutto for a bit of a salty crunch, additional dill because I'm a dill freak and dill goes great with potatoes, and a little grated raw sweet potato for yet another texture and pop of color