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!
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.
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.