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This might not sound like the most glamorous recipe but this is one of my fall backs when I need a bit of sustenance and comfort. It’s also surprisingly delicious and moreish, especially when you add smoky bacon. Of course if you’re a vegetarian, it works equally well without. If I can, I use Gubeen smoked bacon because it is doubly smoky and a little goes a long way in adding depth of flavour. It has a wonderful herby, campfire smokiness to it that works really well in this soup.
I often make this in huge batches and freeze it in single or double portions for those days when you need a proper bowl of soup to warm you up. The recipe below will make about 6 generous portions.
3 large leeks – try to get ones that are more white than green
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
50 g smoked lardons or smoked streaky bacon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1.5 litres boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon stock powder
1 tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
freshly ground black pepper
cream or crème fraîche
25 g smoked bacon, fried until crispy
Trim your leeks. As always, use organic if you can. I never use the really dark green parts when I’m making this soup. The white part of the leek is much sweeter and mellower, so it seems a shame to lose that gentle flavour by using too much of the darker green part. But it does add lots of flavour to stocks so don’t waste it.
Leeks tend to collect a lot of soil in between the layers as they grow, which you need to wash off. I have found that the easiest way to wash leeks is to slice them up and rinse them in a large bowl or even in a clean sink.
Once you’ve broken the slices up as much as you can and swished them around in the water, the leeks will float to the top. This way all the soil and grit will fall to the bottom and you can then scoop them up into a colander, squeaky clean and ready to cook!
Fry the bacon in the olive oil and butter in a large pot until well browned and crispy.
Add the sliced leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook them over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
Add the potatoes, garlic, thyme, black pepper and a bay leaf if you have it. Remember the bacon and the stock both have plenty of salt so you shouldn’t need to add any at this stage, plus you can always add more later once you’ve blended it – if you find it lacking.
Add in your stock, in this case that means some recently boiled water and some organic marigold vegetable bouillon powder.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 mins, until the potatoes are tender.
Blend the soup with a stick blender, remembering to remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf first. You can of course leave it chunky if you prefer but I like a smooth soup myself, it’s totally a matter of preference. Things got a bit steamy at this point so excuse the blurry photos!
If you find your soup has thickened too much, just add a bit more boiling water until you get the consistency you prefer. I like mine thick but still liquid. Otherwise you risk venturing into baby food territory.
Fry some more bacon for the perfect garnish.
Serve with a drizzle of cream or even crème fraîche and the extra bacon if you’re feeling indulgent. I like this best with some crusty sourdough from Tartine Bakery, but any good quality bread will do.
This soup will keep in the fridge for about 3 or 4 days, and freezes really well. Just make sure you reheat it until it’s piping hot! It may not be the most sophisticated recipe but it is extremely comforting and nourishing on a cold and wet Winter’s day. Enjoy!