Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Potato Allium Soup

This was originally a potato leek soup, but I more often have onions around, so adapted the recipe for that. I've always loved this simple soup, particularly as the weather starts to turn colder. It's very adaptable to whatever you've got on hand. You could try adding some turnips, or carrots or other root vegetables. You could make a vegetarian version by omitting the bacon and maybe substituting some (surprise!) smoked paprika. I had a small number of freshly-shelled cranberry beans on hand, so I threw those in this time. I also think it would be tasty with finely-ground greens.

As with nearly all my potato recipes, the key to this one is the freshly-grated nutmeg. The original inspiration for the soup was from Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking but by now I've stopped consulting it and just throwing in whatever quantities of stuff I have on hand. I just do my best not to add too much water because watery potato soup is not very appetizing.

INGREDIENTS
1 TBSP olive oil
2 slices good quality pepper bacon, cut crosswise into lardons
1 large onion, finely chopped (I use my food processor) OR
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned and cut into half moons
2 lbs potatoes (this is a total guess on quantity. I had a net bag of small yukon golds plus four or so slightly larger ones that had come in our CSA) washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Freshly-grated nutmeg
1-2 c. cooked white beans (optional)
1 bunch finely ground or chopped greens (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Water to cover
Champagne vinegar to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat the olive oil in a 5 quart saucepan over medium heat and add the bacon
  2. Cook until the bacon starts rendering fat and is lightly browned
  3. Add the chopped onion and continue cooking until the onion is very soft
  4. Grate in a bunch of nutmeg and stir
  5. Add the potatoes (Elspeth had a whale of a time throwing them into the pot I'd removed from the stove) and stir
  6. Add enough water just to cover the potatoes; it's better to add to little than too much
  7. Bring the soup to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer
  8. Simmer until the potatoes are very soft
  9. Using a stick- or free-standing blender, puree the soup until it is very smooth
  10. Taste and adjust the seasonings
  11. Now add the beans and/or greens, if using, and cook a few more minutes
  12. Adjust seasonings a final time and add some champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar) if the soup could use a little punch
  13. Serve with some crusty bread or with a garlic crouton floating on top

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