A couple of weeks ago, my wonderful husband Jeremy bought me a present...a hand immersion blender. It has proven to be the perfect gift and I have been absolutely obsessed with soup ever since. Jer asked for potato leek soup and I set out on a mission to find the most delicious version possible. After digging around, I found two recipes that were very different and decided that each version deserved a try. The first round went to Ina Garten's version found here. First of all, I make a LOT of Barefoot Contessa recipes. They are always yummy and I find that I rarely have to make changes to her stuff, which I love. If I choose her recipe, I usually always enjoy the results the first time, rather than having to try it again with modifications. For this recipe, I did make some changes right off the bat and I am glad that I did. First of all, I did not use the arugula. There was none to be found at my sad grocery store around the corner (you will probably hear that a lot on this blog) and so I just omitted it. Second of all, I did research on the creme fraiche (because lord knows I was not finding that either!). It is WONDERFUL stuff to cook with because it is not as acidic as sour cream and also does not curdle at high heat. It is also pricey and hard to find. Through my studies, I found out that Crema Mexicana is the exact same thing! It is sold in a tall-ish jar right around the cream cheese in the grocery store. Here in Texas, it is sold EVERYWHERE (even Wal-Mart!) and you have probably passed it a million times without paying attention. I used that instead of creme fraiche and it was absolutely fantastic. Crema Mexicana is now a staple in my fridge. Back to the recipe; I also only used 5 cups of stock in the entire dish and that includes the cup of stock used after roasting. If I had added the amount Ina suggests, it would have been WAY too runny for us. I wanted a bit of substance to the soup and that was the right decision. It turned out very creamy and thin, but not TOO thin. Don't forget that you are also adding the cream, so there is plenty of liquid! I did not make the crispy shallots because of time, but I did fry some bacon to crumble on top, which was delish! I cut up a fresh loaf of french bread and made garlic parmesan bread, which I do a lot. I simply melt some butter, olive oil and minced garlic in a small dish in the microwave. I brush it on the cut bread and then sprinkle freshly grated parmesan on top. Broil for a couple of minutes and you have the perfect bread for dipping!
I recommend this recipe to everyone, but I think it is pretty important that you not add too much stock. I also don't think the arugula is necessary, but if you try it, let me know! Also, be liberal with the salt and pepper. I think the roasting of the potatoes and leeks made for a very rich soup with LOTS of flavor. Fantastic!! I did try the second recipe that I found that did not roast the potatoes and leeks and the flavor was not even close to Ina's. Next time I will try to make those shallots if at all possible...they sound SO GREAT! Overall, this one is staying in rotation!! Perfect for cold winter nights!!