Creamy Potato, Leek & Bacon Soup

I love going to the local farmer’s market and getting some inspiration from the beautiful fresh produce. Unfortunately, the farmer’s market is only open on Saturdays. If I can’t get my hands on the local produce at the farmer’s market I visit a fruit and veg. store run by a closely-knit family. And their imperfectly perfect fruit and vegetables definitely excite me. This time, my eyes were drawn to the large, still quite dirty leeks that were bunched together with a brown string. It was so attractive, how could I resist! And what better combination than leeks and potatoes!

leeks unwashed FB

There is something really great about a creamy potato & leek soup. If you have not tried making your own, it really is worth the (little) effort. But, add bacon and you pretty much have the best ever recipe, plus your fussy’ I-hate-vegetables’ eater will also like this one! Who doesn’t like bacon? And if you know someone who doesn’t like bacon, please ask them what is wrong with them and from which planet are they? I would be a complete mess without bacon.

There is one thing that is a little tricky when it comes to making potato and leek soup – the leeks should absolutely be grit free. I am sure you have all tasted spinach with grit in – it feels like there is a sandstorm in your mouth. It really is horrible. Leeks are like celery stalks, spring onions and spinach – the need a little attention when it comes to cleaning them. Here are the steps in cleaning your leeks:

  • Cut the root end off, as well as the darker leaves. Normally only the lighter part of the leek is used.
  • If the leek is really large or long, it might be easier to cut it in half first. Slice the leek lengthwise.
  • Run a small stream of water through the leeks. The grit will fall out. You can also sort of page through the leek, making sure the water flows through all of the skins until you can’t see any more grit. Especially check the root part where the leek would have grown in soil.
  • You can also roughly rinse the leeks, cut them and then place them in a large bowl of water. You can mix them with your hands. The grit will fall to the bottom. Scoop the leeks from the water.
  • Your leeks are now ready to be used.

Leeks on Scale FB

Leeks Sliced FB

Using a potato cultivar that has more floury characteristics (lower moisture content) is great for mashing and will thus be great for this recipe. Examples of floury potatoes include Up-to-Date, Darius, Avalanche, and Caren. If you cannot find any of those, you can use a potato that has a combination of floury and waxy characteristics. Examples of these include BP1, Valor, Fianna, VDP, Lanorma or Sifra. Waxy potatoes have a high moisture content and retain their shape very well when they are cooked. These potatoes are not ideal for mashing, but rather for recipes where the potato needs to retain its shape. Examples of these include Mondial, BP13, and Fabula.

Half of the salt used in this recipe is smoked salt. It really is a great investment and enhances the flavour of so many of dishes I make. If you see it at the supermarket, do yourself a favour and buy some for yourself and for your best friend!

I used the skins of the potatoes to make a crispy garnish for the soup. The skins were left to dry out a little bit and were deep-fried in a combination of sunflower oil and bacon fat that was rendered some time ago and stored in the fridge. I sprinkled some salt over the deep-fried potato skins once they were removed from the oil. I put a few potato skins on the soup with a dollop of sour cream and then something green – I recommend using a sprig of rosemary. You can also make your own bacon powder and use it as garnish.

Pot FB

Deepfried Potato Skins

Soup in Bowl 2 FB

Soup in Bowl 1 FB

Cream Potato, Leek & Bacon Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Make 1 Big Pot (enough to feed a large family or a couple could eat this for a few meals)

Ingredients

  • 1 Packet of Bacon (whichever you prefer will be fine)
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • ± 600g Cleaned Leeks
  • ± 1kg Potatoes
  • 1 Stock Pot (I used beef, but chicken will also be fine)
  • ½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ½ Teaspoon Mustard Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary / 2 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
  • Pepper to Taste
  • Salt to Taste (half normal salt and half smoked salt is a winning combination)
  • ½ Cup Cream
  • 100ml Milk

Instructions

  1. Dice the bacon into little bits if you did not buy bacon bits. I find it easier to cut the bacon with a pair of sharps scissors.
  2. Brown the bacon bits in a pot on medium to high heat, or in you slow cooker using the ‘browning’ setting. If you are using lean bacon or back bacon, I recommend putting a splash of olive oil in the pot before you add the bacon. There is no need for additional oil if your bacon has a lot of fat on. Stir the pot every now and then to avoid the bacon burning.
  3. While the bacon browns, chop the onion into medium dice.
  4. Add the onion once the bacon has a brown colour to it. You can now turn down the heat or use the ‘sauté’ setting on your pressure cooker. Stir the pot every two minutes to avoid burning the onions.
  5. While the onion is busy cooking, cut the leeks into ½ - 1 cm slices and add it to the pot. Remember to stir it every few minutes.
  6. Peel the potatoes, keeping the skins in a separate bowl.
  7. Rinse the potatoes and cut them into ± 2cm squares. It does not need to be perfect.
  8. Once all of the potatoes are cut, add them to the pot.
  9. Fill the pot with water until the potatoes are just covered.
  10. Add all of the herbs and spices and stir through.
  11. If you are using the stove, put the lid on and reduce the heat to a lower setting. Cook until the potatoes are soft. If you are using a pressure cooker, put the lid on a cook the mixture for 20 minutes on high pressure.
  12. Once the potatoes are soft, take an emulsion blender and blend the mixture until there are no lumps.
  13. Add the cream and the milk and stir until it is well combined. If the soup is still too thick you can add more milk until it has reached the desired consistency.
  14. Please remember to taste the soup and ass more salt and pepper should it need some.
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