Creamy Comfort [Potato Soup]

Now that the cold weather is on its way, I find myself craving hot, steaming bowls of soup and stew. I want to curl up in flannel pajamas next to the fireplace and keep warm while the cold weather stays OUTside. When I do venture outside, I make it quick. Usually just a fast walk around the block with Ollie or even just a run out to the yard. What we’ve found living in Lexington is that the wind makes the cold about 100x worse!! Who knew it was SO windy here?!

Nothing says “warmth” and “comfort” like a bowl of potato soup. So I went poking around some of my favorite cooking blogs to find the perfect recipe. And wouldn’t you know I found it?! I’ve made the following recipe twice, and everyone who’s eaten it raves about it as much as I do. So do yourself a favor and give this soup a try. It’s surprisingly easy, and I promise: you’ll love it… Unless for some reason you hate leeks or potatoes. Then you might want to move along and find a different recipe. Maybe something other than potato soup! 😉

The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, but I made just a couple small changes.

Potato Soup

Serves 6

1 head garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped small (I used 1 leek the first time, and I think I’d only use 1 to 1 1/2 leeks. 2 is a lot)
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used 5 cups; you may want to add up to an extra cup after pureeing if you’d like a thinner soup)
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup light sour cream (I used light vs. regular sour cream or even heavy cream)
Ground black pepper

Toppings, optional:
Minced fresh chives
Freshly cooked and chopped bacon (I put the bacon IN the soup the first time, which was delish! Just a different take on the dish)
Grated cheddar
Any other toppings you wish

Rinse the head of garlic to remove any outside grit or dirt. Cut the top third off the head and peel any loose papery skins off the bottom two-thirds. Instead of discarding the top third, pop out the garlic clove tips and mince them.

Before cooking this soup for the first time, I’d never cooked with leeks so I had no idea how dirty they are or how to wash them. You need to chop them first and then swirl them in a bowl of water; the dirt sinks to the bottom.

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook them until soft (but not brown), about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the larger part of the garlic head (whole, not chopped), broth, bay leaves and teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer (make sure your liquid is moving a bit) until garlic is very tender when pierced with tip of knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

The leeks and garlic sautéing might be one of the most fragrant things I’ve EVER smelled. SO yummy!

This is everything except the sour cream–just before pureeing. If you look closely you can see the head of garlic in the top left of the photo. This simmering in the soup gives the most wonderful flavor of roasted garlic, without overpowering the flavors of the leeks and the potatoes. Smitten Kitchen’s Deb was genius to include it!

Discard bay leaves. Remove garlic heads. Add sour cream to soup and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Using immersion blender, process soup until chunky-creamy, leaving lots of potato texture intact.You could also transfer portions of the potatoes and broth to a food processor or blender and puree until all smooth. Serve with whatever makes you happy on top, or nothing at all. I found it to be perfect with just a bit of cheese as a garnish. SO creamy and good.