Saturday, March 2, 2013

Crockpot Spicy Potato Leek Soup

I have one more crockpot recipe to share with you before the challenge ends. I know it's now March (crazy, right?), but I made it a few days ago so technically it still counts.

Last week I happened to see a big bunch of fresh leeks at the grocery store and the thought of steaming, onion-y bowls of potato leek soup popped into my head. It's one of the easiest soups to make even without a crockpot, but crockpotting it let me throw it all together at lunch time during one of my work-from-home days this week, and then by the time work was done, dinner was already made.

I haven't had potato leek soup since I was a kid, but washing and cutting all those leeks really brought me back. Some of my cousins used to live in a big old farmhouse in Vermont on a large tract of land, and when we were kids we used to go foraging for berries and mushrooms and whatever else we could find. One time we found a whole patch of leeks growing wild, and came home with armloads of them. That day I made potato leek soup for the first time, in a warm country kitchen with my favorite cousin and her mom. Such a great memory, and I'd nearly forgotten about it until the other day when I stood over my own kitchen sink rinsing away the dirt from the leeks. That's one thing I love about cooking, all the fond memories that it can conjure up.

P.S. Leeks are really dirty. They look deceivingly clean on the outside, but a quick rinse definitely will not do. Make sure you pull the stalks apart and rinse them all individually like celery or you'll end up with clay and sand all through your soup.

Potato leek soup is typically pretty bland, so the addition of hot peppers and garlic really kicks up the flavor here. I roasted the garlic for this soup (baked in foil with a little olive oil at 400 degrees the night before), but it wasn't really worth the trouble since the hot pepper masked the roasty flavor. Regular garlic will work just fine.

It's a simple but heartwarming soup that pairs perfectly with a green salad for a full meal.

And with that, it's time for me to jump in the shower and get this weekend started. I have a bridal shower in north Jersey today, which means I get to spend the whole day with some of my girlfriends. Can't wait!

Crockpot Spicy Potato Leek Soup

Serves 8-10

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and cut into chunks (do not peel)
3 leeks, washed and chopped
1 jalapeno or other pepper, chopped
2 bulbs roasted garlic OR 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Cheddar cheese, for garnish

Add potatoes, leeks, hot pepper, garlic, salt and pepper to the crockpot. Pour broth over the top. Cook on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for 5-6 hours. Once potatoes are cooked, turn off heat and puree with an immersion blender (or add soup to a regular blender to puree). Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.

Note: Soup may be stored in Tupperware containers and frozen if desired.

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