Just a couple minor changes to a recipe can make or break it. Honestly. But…a couple years ago, Cathy bought me the cookbook for Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s restaurant in Las Vegas. In fact, we dined there when we were in Vegas and had one of the best food experiences of our life up to that point. It was, in a word, heavenly.
And then…I just sort of let this gem of a cookbook sit on my shelf…never really pulling it out to explore. But when my CSA bin gave me leeks, I remembered one of the dishes we had in Vegas was…Potato Leek Soup. So, I pulled out my cookbook and got settled in to see if it was something I could, indeed, set out to make…and make properly.
There were a couple of minor tweaks necessary, for my food allergies and the like…like making it vegan. It actually worked out perfectly. Honestly. I was so happy with the way this soup turned out that I am eager to make it again…and again…and again. The best part was…save for a few minor ingredients (chives)…this recipe was made from items that were already in my pantry.
I will make not of my changes in parentheses. But huge props to Thomas Keller for this amazing recipe. And if I hadn’t eaten at Bouchon…well…I might never have experienced this or been inspired to make it for myself.
Recipe: Vegan Potato Leek Soup (inspired by Thomas Keller’s Bouchon recipe)
Time: Prep 15 minutes: Cook 60 minutes
- 2 pounds (about 3 large) leeks
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz.) unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance)
- Heaping 1/2 cup sliced (about 1/4 in. thick) shallots
- 1/3 cup sliced (1/4 inches thick) onions
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound (about 1 large) russet potato, peeled
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Bouquet garni or sachet of 8 thyme sprigs, 2 Italian parsley sprigs, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp. black peppercorn, wrapped in cheesecloth
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used a low-sodium organic vegetable broth)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (I used So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk)
- 1/2 cup minced chives
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cut away and discard dark green leaves and roots from leeks, leaving only white and palest green sections. Cut in half lengthwise, rinse in cold water to remove dirt between layers. Place leeks cut side down and cut in 1/4 inch thick slices (yields about 3 cups).
Melt butter in large saucepan over med-low heat. Add leeks, shallots, and onions. Season generously with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and sweat the veggies, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes – veggies should wilt but not brown.
Meanwhile, cut potato lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 1/4 in thick slices, yielding about 1-1/4 cups.
Add garlic to the sauteing veggies and cook for another minute, then add sachet and potatoes. Cook for 2 to 4 min longer.
Add 6 cups stock, adjust seasonings. Bring to simmer, then reduce and simmer for 30 min, or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and let soup cool for about 15 min. Remove the sachet. Transfer soup in batches to blender and puree, starting at low speed (to release heat remaining in soup), and then slowly increase speed until soup is smooth. Don’t overfill the blender, since hot liquid can spurt out. It is helpful to place your hand over the lid while holding a towel. Strain through a fine sieve or the like if you want the soup to be extra smooth. (That part is optional…I chose not to, and my soup was still smooth!)
To finish, return soup to a rinsed out pan and bring to simmer. Add cream and simmer on low for 5 min – stir frequently and careful not to burn! Remove from heat. Stir in chives if serving hot. If refrigerating, pour into container and place in ice bath to cool (it keeps about 2 days). Serve sprinkled with chives and olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.
You would be hard-pressed to tell that this soup was vegan. Honestly, the changes I made didn’t affect the creaminess or the taste of the soup. It was so good, and Cathy and I feasted on it for three delightful evenings. It was super packed with flavor and still super creamy. Substituting culinary coconut milk for the heavy cream didn’t change the texture at all. It worked brilliantly.
So…with soup season coming on strong…give this recipe a try. Thomas Keller is a brilliant chef and this recipe is one of the best soups I have made so far. Truly a delight.