Gloria Spittel enjoys a hearty liquid
Of all the soups in the world, potato and leek soup sounds rather unappealing – and perhaps even boring to some. I mean a concoction of your everyday potato and leek screams ‘carbs with some flavour’ – if at all, right?
Or so I thought…
Potato and leek soup (like many other types) can be as bland or inspiring as the maker wishes it to be. And unlike soups with strong flavour bases such as pumpkin, spinach, tomato and so on, potatoes do what they do best: they pair well with almost anything.
The variations depend on using complementary ingredients such as bacon (beef or pork), smoked sausage, roast chicken or grilled seafood.
Of course, getting it right is also important. So here is a basic potato and leek soup with the variations included.
POTATO AND LEEK SOUP
Wash and slice the leeks. Many recipes suggest the dark-green part of the leek shouldn’t be used but it is okay to do so. Wash the potatoes and dice them into small chunks. Peeling them is optional.
Put the butter in a saucepan and once melted, add the fennel and chopped or smashed garlic. Sauté until fragrant; then add the white and light-green parts of the leek. If you opt to use bacon or smoked sausage, fry them first; then sauté the aromatics and leeks. Do not use butter. Once the sliced leeks are translucent, add the cornflour and stir well. Pour in the broth slowly and stir well to dissolve the cornflour. Add the thyme and simmer until the potatoes are tender
At this point, the variations can be added and the soup consumed as is since it would be deliciously chunky. If a creamy consistency is desired, add milk and parsley. For a smooth soup, blend the cooked soup. If the soup is too thick or a creamier consistency is desired, add milk.
Stir the variation ingredients of choice into the soup or garnish with parsley. If you are using grilled seafood or vegetables, it is best served on the soup rather than mixed through.
NOTE For homemade stock, use either beef or chicken bones (essentially the back) and boil with root vegetables of choice such as carrots and aromatics such as ginger and garlic, spices (cinnamon, cloves and cardamom), peppercorns and salt. Use ample water to cover the ingredients. Once a rolling boil is achieved, cover the pot and simmer for about two hours on extremely low heat.
VARIATIONS You can use three or four smoked sausages, bacon of choice or roast chicken. For vegetarian options, consider adding bite-size roasted or crispy fried potato, manioc, lotus or breadfruit chips onto the soup as a garnish and for texture – especially if the soup is blended into a smooth liquid.
Other vegetarian options can include stirring in green peas in the last stages of preparation or serving with grilled eggplant.