Some people head off to a spa to relax. Others sign up for yoga classes or spend a day poolside in a chaise lounge sipping drinks with paper umbrellas.
Me? I make soup.
When I need to chill out, nothing relaxes me like chopping vegetables, sautéing onions, and stirring a batch of soup. It’s a soothing ritual that’s downright therapeutic. I can zone out, let my mind wander, and when I come out of my zen-like state to return to the reality of life beyond my kitchen, I’ve got a big pot of soup that’s going to comfort and nourish me for days.
This particular soup is one of the classics: potato-leek. We’re going to spiff it up for spring with the addition of artichokes and a splash of white wine. Ready? Let’s relax…let’s make soup.
Slice leeks into coins and remove the grit by soaking in a bowl of cold water. Separate the rings, swish them around, and watch your worries disappear.
Peel a few red potatoes and cut them into to cubes. Peace out.
Chop a couple of cloves of garlic and rinse a can of artichoke hearts. We’re ready to turn this to soup.
Start with the leeks. Sweat them down in a little butter or oil or both. Add the garlic and stir it around the pot until you just start to smell it. Toss in the artichokes and splash in a little white wine. The wine will eliminate any “tinny” flavor from the canned artichokes. Don’t want to pop a bottle just for this? I bet that abandoned dry vermouth in the back of your liquor cabinet would do the trick. Add the potatoes and top with broth. Bring it up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
In 45 minutes, or so, your potatoes will be tender, your house fragrant, and your mind calm. You could call it quits right here or you could puree it and drizzle in a little cream.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Sprinkle with chives or parsley. Maybe some lemon zest or toasted pine nuts . A drizzle of olive oil. Shavings of Parmesan. Tune out the chaos, put your feet up, and enjoy this simple pleasure.
- 2 Leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into ¼ in. rounds
- 2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 14 oz. can Artichoke Hearts, rinsed and drained
- ¼ c. Dry White Wine
- 1½# (about 6 medium-sized) Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ in. cubes
- about 3 c. Chicken or Vegetable Stock (preferably homemade, but low-sodium if you’re using canned)
- ½ c. Milk, Cream, or Half & Half, optional
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Herbs to garnish
- Place the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water. Separate the rings and let any sand sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the leeks and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
- Heat about a Tbsp. each of butter and olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, season with salt, and sauté until the leeks start to sweat, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the artichokes and briefly sauté, 1 minute. Add the wine and allow the vegetables to absorb most of it, about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, season lightly, and add chicken or vegetable stock to just cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, 40-45 minutes.
- Allow soup to cool slightly. Puree using an immersion or conventional blender or food processor. Taste. Season with additional salt, if needed, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the milk or cream and gently reheat.
- Divide the soup between warm soup bowls and garnish as desired. I went the minimalist route and sprinkled mine with a handful of chives and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Matt tried his with truffle oil and loved it; I thought it masked the artichoke flavor. I’ll never turn down a couple of croutons or a few shards of Parmesan. Leftover roasted asparagus, cut into small pieces? That’d be nice. Crispy pancetta? Why not?