Since it has been so incredibly cold lately I decided to try out a new soup last night, Roasted Potato and Leek Soup, courtesy of Barefoot Contessa. It was really delicious and hearty--perfect for a cold night in. I couldn't find arugula anywhere, is it out of season or something?, so I nixed it from the recipe. I did make the crispy shallots--after a few intimidating reads of the recipe I went for it. My mom gave me a candy thermometer a while ago which I promptly laughed at and threw into the back of a drawer but it's suprisingly easy to use and the end result is definitely worth it!
I also used my fancy handheld blender for the first time! It cuts down on time putting the veggies in the blender and transferring them back and forth, I always make a mess doing this. I have the Cusinart Smartstick and love it! It's perfect for making soups.
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces creme fraiche
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
Crispy Shallots, recipe follows, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. (I skipped this part) Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan. (A good amount of the leeks got pretty crispy, or black in my case, I threw out the really burnt ones but I think it's expected since they're so thin.)
In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they're all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.
When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan and crispy shallots, if using.
1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.
Yield: about 1/2 cup