Friday, September 14, 2012

Slow Cooker (or not so slow cooker) Potato Leek Soup

This is the best version of this soup that I have made to date, and it couldn't be more perfect! Why? Because it is versatile. Bacon lover? This soup is for you. Vegetarian? No problem. Vegan? Well, I've never tried making this vegan, but I think it could work. The first time I made this I made it in a pot and it worked well (took about an hour or so). Then I adapted it for the slow cooker, which is even better for my days chasing the Monkey boys. I've also premade this soup sans the milk ingredients, tossed it into a freezer bag, and put it in the freezer. Just defrost overnight and place in the slow cooker before starting your day.

This soup is creamy despite containing very little milk with a smokey bacon flavor and a slight peppery aftertaste. The peppery taste is from the leek, which basically looks like a green onion on steroids. I grew the leeks I used for this batch in my own garden, which was quite easy, but you can find leeks in pretty much any grocery store.

I prefer to use red new potatoes (large size) yukon golds because I like to leave the skins on for extra nutritional value and to cut out the step of peeling. Russets can be used as well, but I recommend peeling them first unless you enjoy a little grit in your soup.

I have genetically high cholesterol, which means I must strive every day to keep the saturated fat and cholesterol levels low in my diet (13mg of saturated fat for one day goes quickly). I have not been so good at sticking to this since getting pregnant with Big Monkey. My goal is to get back to that kind of healthy eating. So I used turkey bacon this time, but I really like the depth of flavor and saltiness that real bacon adds. For these same reasons I used half and half, although I should have just used nonfat or low fat milk like I have in the past. These milks provide a less creamy soup, but I usually just add a little less liquid and let the potato act as a natural thickener. It hasn't seemed to change the taste much in the past. You can also use heavy whipping cream for a thicker and creamier soup. Up to you.

Potato Leek Soup

- 8 large red new potatoes, washed and quartered
- 1 large leek (or 2 for more leek flavor), green parts sliced into thin ribbons (discard the white bottom)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 a package of bacon of your choice, chopped into bits
- 1 cup half n half, heavy whipping cream, or milk

In a pan crisp the bacon. Add the leeks and cook with bacon until tender (just a few minutes). Add to crock pot. Add in potatoes and chicken stock. Cook on low for 8 hours (I'm sure you can cook on high for 4 hours, but I have not tried). When finished mash and stir potatoes in the crock pot and add the cream/milk. If you are using milk rather than a thicker cream, then add the milk slowly and stop when soup reaches the desired consistency (you're aiming for creamy and not watery). It may take less than a cup (I often cook by sight, so many of my measurements are approximate). Enjoy!

If you would rather cook this soup in a pot. Follow the directions above but simmer all ingredients except the milk for 45-60 minutes until the potatoes are soft and are starting to fall apart and make the soup thick. Then add the cream/milk and serve.

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