Sunday, January 4, 2015

Potato, Leek, and Bacon Soup with Pepperjack Cheese

Saturday night, I was given my marching orders. "We have a bag of red potatoes; I want potato and bacon soup." So, all right then, I guess we're having potato and bacon soup on Sunday. I'm kind of kidding about this. 98% of the dinner battle for me is deciding what to make. If I know what I am making then it is all down to the easy part, execution.

Potato, Leek, and Bacon Soup with Pepperjack Cheese
The final product was delicious, creamy, chunky, warm, spicy, and herbaceous. In short, it was a wonderful soup, but it took a good long bit of effort to make this seemingly effortless soup taste so good.

Leeks Just in from the Garden
I don't guess too many people have seen leeks as they grow in the field. They're easy to grow and easy to prepare, but the roots, the big root clusters trap a lot of dirt and rocks. It's best if you can wash them in a bucket of water outside, but when it's below freezing as it is now, that's not exactly the best plan. We're very fortunate that the ground is thawed enough to dig leeks. Many years we cannot dig leeks in January.

They Look Very Different When Cleaned

After prepping the leeks, mincing some garlic, and dicing the bacon, I rendered the bacon in a big sauté pan, then transferred just the bacon to the slow cooker, leaving the grease in the pan for cooking the sliced leeks and minced garlic until they were translucent. Once the leeks went into the slow cooker, grease and all, in went a small bouquet garni of rosemary and thyme from the garden.

Rosemary and Thyme Bouquet Garni
Then I diced about 5 pounds of potatoes and put them in the slow cooker along with a half a pound of diced pepperjack cheese, a cup of grated orange cheddar cheese (for color), two minced jalapeños that I pickled last summer, one brunoised carrot (also for color), a bit of salt, two cups of fat-free lactose-free milk (I'm lactose intolerant) for the illusion of creaminess, and a quart or two of water.

After about 4 hours in the slow cooker, and after skimming the fat a couple of times, I blended one gallon of the one and a half gallons of soup to a thick, super creamy consistency and added that back to the remaining chunky portion of the soup so that at the same time it would be silky yet have good texture.

This is a great cold weather soup!

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