Creamy Potato and Leek Soup


You can use this recipe as a model for just about any creamy vegetable soup.
TIME About 1 hour
MAKES 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium potatoes, any type, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, well rinsed and thinly sliced crosswise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock or water
½ cup cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish


Method
1 Put the butter in a large pot over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the potatoes and leeks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the leeks start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

2 Add the stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool the mixture slightly, then carefully transfer it to a blender or food processor; work in batches if necessary to avoid filling the container more than two-thirds full. Start the machine at low or pulse to get the soup moving, then increase the speed. Purée the mixture until it’s as lumpy or smooth as you like.

3 Return the soup to the pot, turn the heat to medium-low, and stir in the cream. Adjust the heat so the mixture barely bubbles but doesn’t come to a full boil. Cook, stirring, just to heat everything through, 2 to 3 minutes. (Or refrigerate the soup, covered, for up to 2 days; reheat before continuing.) Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with the chives.

Variations
  • Vichyssoise: A French-American classic that’s delicious and fortifying in summer. Simply serve this soup chilled. You can make it up to a day ahead of time; remember that cold soups usually need a bit more salt.
  • Creamy Onion and Potato Soup: For a slightly different flavor, substitute 3 medium onions for the leeks. Cut them in half, then slice into thin crescents.
  • Other vegetables to try: Broccoli, peas, carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, or asparagus. Trim, peel, and chop them as necessary. The cooking time may vary a bit in Step 2, so just keep an eye on them and taste frequently. Purée the soup whenever the vegetables become super-tender.

Tips
  • Leeks are often sandy, so rinse them in a colander after chopping, as you would greens.
  • This soup is best made with stock, but it’s still really good if you don’t have any handy and need to use water. To make it a bit more decadent and flavorful, reduce the water to 5 cups and increase the cream to 1 cup.

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