Winter Vegetable Soup

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Winter Vegetable Soup

My friend Lisa gave me this recipe last winter. I made it once and was discouraged since all I had was an old blender. It worked well, but it was late in the day and I was losing patience. The soup tasted wonderful, but it wasn’t the experience I had hoped for. I just recently bought an immersion blender. It made such a difference. Don’t get me wrong, the blender worked. I had just been too tired. It’s times like this that make me wonder what did we ever do before we had these contraptions. I guess with this soup, you would have withheld most of the liquids until the potatoes were cooked and mashed them. It could work! I am a novice with immersion blenders and I went a little too crazy with it. Next time I will follow her directions to the word and puree half the soup and then add the rest of the spinach. Ooops!

I hope you try this soup. On a cold and snowy night, a bowl of soup and a hunk of bread will fix what ails you!

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (or more if you love bacon)

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter

2 cups finely diced leeks (white part and 1 inch of green)

1 ½ cups finely diced onion

1 cup finely diced celery

1 ½ tsp. dried tarragon

½ tsp. dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

5 cups of chicken stock or canned broth

2 ½ cup finely diced potatoes (about 4 potatoes)

1 lb. fresh baby spinach

½ cup heavy or whipping cream

This potato/leek soup is easy. But I have to stress that you need to do your prep work before you start. You should cut you leeks, onions and celery ahead of time. I peel and dice the potatoes while the other vegetables sauté.  Trust me. It makes cooking more enjoyable if you are prepared. As the French stay, “mise en place”….everything in place.

If you haven’t cooked with leeks, you should know they can be very sandy. I usually cut them, and then let them soak in cold water. The sand will drop to the bottom of the bowl. You just scoop out the cut leeks when you need them. You can drain them in a colander or on paper towels. Simple. Effective.

In a large pot (at least 4 ½ quarts), cook the bacon over a low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisping. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Drain the bacon on a paper towel. I used it as a topping for the soup. It really makes the soup magnificent.

Add butter to the pot and sauté the leeks, onions and celery. You wanted them wilted, not brown. Cook them on a low heat and stir them. You can always take the pan off the heat for a minute if they are cooking too quickly. Add the tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well. Keep in mind you will season it again with salt and pepper before serving.

Add the stock and potatoes. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. This will take about 15-20 minutes. I used only 4 cups of stock. I like my soups thicker. That’s my preference.

Add half the spinach. Simmer for about one minute.

Remove the soup from the heat. Put half of the soup in either a blender or food processor. If you are using an immersion blender, put the soup in a saucepan or deep bowl. Puree this. If you are using a blender, be careful. Let the soup cool for a few minutes. Blenders are temperamental about hot liquids. Pour the pureed soup into the original pot and heat on a low heat. Add the remaining spinach and the cream. Heat through, stirring well, but do not boil. Adjust the seasoning, top with the bacon bits, and serve.

For those of you worried about the cream, don’t! I mistakenly left it out last night and the world did not end. It would have added some color and smoothness, but the soup was still delicious!

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