Creamy Sweet Potato Leek Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Leek Soup (brokeassgourmet.com / June 24, 2014)

You may recall that I am of the somewhat unpopular opinion that regular, starchy potatoes aren't all that great. It's not even a health thing; I just don't get what the fuss is all about. I mean, sure, if they're covered with cheese and other flavorful stuff I can get into them, but even then, it's in a, "hmm, this potato is a viable vehicle for these other things I'd like to put in my mouth right now," not in an, "OMG, please smother me with buttery potato starch immediately" kind of way. They just don't do very much for me. I'd rather have sweet potatoes any day.

So when I got a bushel of beautiful leeks in my CSA box this week, I knew I wanted to make a creamy leek soup, and I also knew that regular potatoes wouldn't be involved. Enter this bowl of farm-fresh magic.

There is very little to this soup, and yet, thanks to a few simple techniques, it tastes like much more than the sum of its parts.

And speaking of techniques, whenever you work with leeks, it's very important to clean them well. I do this by soaking them in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes, and then rinsing them several times until they're completely free of grime.

Next, they get melted down in a generous amount of butter until silky and soft, then cooked with sweet potatoes and water. I really could not be easier.

The resulting soup is ultra-creamy, but not heavy as with traditional potato-leek soup. Since I always have half-and-half on hand (for coffee, and every other time I need a creamy element in a dish), that's what I use here, but if you happen to have milk or heavy cream in your refrigerator, any of the above will work. I've even seen a similar soup prepared with soymilk.

I like to reinforce the oniony flavor of the leeks by garnishing each bowl with thinly sliced scallions or chives, but a shower of chopped fresh parsley or thyme would also be lovely.

As a sidenote, if you don't already own an immersion blender, I implore you to consider buying one. They're relatively cheap, and beyond making pureed soups a snap, they're also great for sauces, smoothies, hummus, mincing garlic, onions, ginger and fresh herbs, whipping cream, and so much more. If you have limited funds and limited space in which to cook, this is an investment you should absolutely make.

INGREDIENTS

3 medium leeks $1.50
2 tablespoons unsalted butter $1 for a stick
3 cups peeled, diced garnet yams (don't by white-fleshed sweet potatoes) $1.50
salt and pepper to taste pantry
1/8 cup milk, half-and-half or heavy cream $1.50 for a pint

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the leeks and remove any dirty outer layers. Cut off the ends of the leeks as well as the dark, tough top leaves, and discard. Slice the leeks into 1/4" rings.

Fill a mixing bowl with water. Add the sliced leeks, and soak for about 10 minutes. This will help loosen any remaining dirt or sand.

Once the leeks have soaked, drain and rinse them several times until they are completely free of dirt.

Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and reduce heat to medium low. Stir the leeks to completely coat them in the melted butter, then let cook, undisturbed for 15 minutes. Make sure they do not brown.

To the pot, add the peeled, diced sweet potato and water to cover. Cover and turn the heat up to high to bring to a boil. Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 12-13 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very soft.

Remove the soup from heat and use an immersion blender, regular blender or a food processor to puree until completely smooth.

Add the milk, half-and-half or cream and stir to fully incorporate. Return to the stove and simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soup is very creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with sliced scallions, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.