The plan was to make classic potato and leek soup, but then, after looking in my refrigerator, I thought differently, there were vegetables I needed to use up. I was going away on a girls trip to New York and I knew there was no way my husband would use them, I would come home to shrivelled up, unusable vegetables. So I ended up adding carrots and celery, along with a couple slices of bacon, for a little more flavor. The bacon I used has a smoky maple flavor. Potato and bacon alone, go together well in a soup and adding cheddar(did not use cheddar this time but would be a nice garnish) makes it even more decadent. I was a little hesitant in adding the bacon as my husband is not a big fan, but the flavor is subtle, and since the soup is pureed it almost disappears. He ate a big bowl of it when he arrived home from work!
2 large leeks, about 1 pound
2 stocks of celery, diced medium size
2 carrots, peeled and diced medium size
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 strips bacon, chopped- (optional)- instead just use the butter to cook the vegetables
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 to 1 1/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced- any kind will work- honestly the thin skinned white, yellow(Yukon) or red potato don’t even need to be peeled.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1/2 cup of creme fraiche or whipping cream- optional for extra creamy richness- I didn’t add this time.
Trim the green portions of the leek and, using 2 of the largest and longest leaves, make a Bouquet Garni by folding the 2 leaves around the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Tie into a package-shaped bundle with kitchen twine and set aside. (Alternately, tie 2 leek leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme together in a piece of cheesecloth.)
Using a sharp knife, halve the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to rid the leek of any sand. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon, if using. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. Add the chopped leeks, carrots and celery and cook until wilted and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the reserved bouquet garni, chicken or vegetable stock, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart when tested with a fork.
Remove the Bouquet Garni and, working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Alternately, if you own an Immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot.) Stir in the optional creme fraiche or whipping cream and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately, with some of the snipped chives sprinkled over the top of each bowl of soup.