Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leek Potato Garlic Soup - Bonus - Making Gravy

An easy and quick soup, if you have some leftover mashed potatoes or leftover boiled potatoes, it's all the faster and better. This happens to be Violinist's favourite.

Potato Leek Garlic Soup
  • 3 large leeks
  • 1 - 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 stalk of broccoli, diced (optional)
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • mashed potatoes, 2 cups, more or less
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley, flakes or chopped fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper or to taste
  • 1 tsp or more of salt
  • 1 tin of commercial chicken gravy or a cup or two of your own
  • 6 - 8 cups chicken broth or water and likely more
  • 1 tin - 370 ml. - evaporated milk (optional)
  • dollop of butter or chicken fat to saute the onions
You will notice that ingredients are a little slip changey here. Soup is like that. This soup is nicer with pre-cooked and mashed potatoes, but don't get excited if you don't have them on hand to do that. I've made the soup without the mashed potatoes and thickened it with corn starch, but it is better to wait until there are some leftover mashed potatoes to make this soup.

I've never been one to make food that takes a lot of prep work right off. My style is to make a square meal. If there are left-overs then make something else with the leftovers. I grew up on hash-brown potatoes. But we didn't call them that. We called them, fried potatoes and thought nothing of it. It was simply the next thing to do with the day before's left-over boiled potatoes. It wasn't until I got to college that I found out they were called hash-browns and that people go ga-ga over them.

I take the same approach with most of my cooking today. Today's Beef Lentil soup becomes tomorrow's Chili. Today's mashed potatoes, becomes tomorrow's Shepherd's Pie or Leek Soup or Potato Bread.

Chop onion, mince garlic and saute until golden in melted butter or chicken fat, which you remembered to keep and freeze for this purpose. I get my chicken fat from the broth left over when pressure-cooking chicken.
Wash and clean the leeks. Do this in the sink. Cut the root ends off and slice the stalk in half lengthwise, cutting upwards from the white root end and only do one stalk at a time because,
you are going to find mud in between the leaves on the leek and don't want that mess getting into the other leeks or spreading down into the white part.

Separate the leaves gently and wash the mud out by holding the leeks, darker green part down, for the mud to run in that direction. The mud does not usually go further down into the white part, so let's not contaminate it if we can help it.
Chop the leeks. And I'm going to get farmy on you here - use all the stalk. What the heck is wrong with the whole stalk? Fancy schmancy cooks will say, "Cut off the dark and use the tender, luscious pale part." The vitamins are in the dark end. Use the whole thing. I paid for it and it tastes good and is filling. It will be just fine in soup. I have men to feed.Add the leeks to the soup pot and let them wilt down by stirring around with a spatula and adding the gravy or some broth. Once wilted down, add the rest of the gravy, broth or water. I get my broth from keeping the liquid and freezing it after a summer of pressure cooking chicken for the barbeque. Let simmer.
Broccoli. This is up to you. I sometimes add it, not always. Small dice a stalk of broccoli and the florets. Peel the stalk first. Learned that from GG's Mom. Toss into the pot.
Peel and dice up some potatoes. Toss into the pot. Add more broth or water to cover the vegetables.
Add the salt and pepper and parsley. If you have pre-cooked mashed potatoes, add them once the other vegetables are tender. I have about four cups here. I know the ingredient list above says 2 cups. I added all of it, okay? Mush them up and add to the pot.
If you want, add a tin of evaporated milk. It makes the soup creamier. You don't have to add it, but I usually do.
Let the soup kinda' simmer a bit longer and then turn off the heat. The mashed potatoes will provide thickening. If you don't have mashed potatoes on hand you can skip them and use corn starch to thicken. Do this exactly the way one makes gravy.

How To Make Gravy or Thicken Soup - Take a teacup or coffee mug. Put 1 - 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the cup - depending on the amount of the liquid you want to thicken. I use a literal tablespoon - a spoon from the drawer generally meant for eating soup.

Go over to the sink. Add some cold water to the cornstarch and stir it in. Now take a few spoonfuls of hot broth from the soup or liquid left in the bottom of the roaster if you are making gravy and start to mix it into the teacup. Stir. Now pour that into the soup or roaster over heat. Stir and heat until thickened. If you heat too long, the cornstarch will actually begin to thin things out. I don't know why. Some chemistry going on there. Anyway, the liquid will thicken and that's how you make gravy too. And as an aside, don't use flour for making gravy. You need to use far too much, it makes the gravy cloudy - and I can always taste it. Same with soup.

Another way to thicken soup is to take out a portion, put it in the blender and process until smooth. Then add that back into the soup. Whichever way you want. It's up to you.

Footnote: No photo of the finished product, although the top one is very, very close - it just needed the milk added. They all looked like porridge. Sigh. C'est la vie et Bon Appetit.


Leila said...

Yes! Thank you! Why in the heck can't we use the green part??

I use the green part up until it looks kind of really sad and thick (and notice that they still leave even that part on to sell it to you!) and THAT part I put in the stock pot. But even the inside of that part is usually tender and

Your soup looks yummy! even without the milk...

Jeanne said...


Gill - That British Woman said...

that does look yummy.......thanks for posting the "play by play"