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Leek, potato and bacon soup

This soup is probably one of the easiest things to prepare from scratch, and even if it is your first cooking attempt, you can hardly go wrong with it. For me the combination of a steaming bowl of healthy soup made from seasonal vegetables and the time it takes (done in no time!) – made it very difficult to refuse having a try.

Leeks and potato soup with baconThere are thousands of recipes and variations, we know of but as we’ve made it rather often this winter (and still finding it extremely tasty), we decided to share our recipe with you.

Of all the winter soups this one is the easiest to play with – you can make it vegan (substituting butter and milk), adapt it for meat lovers, or crumble some good well aged cheese (like Stilton) in and it will be still delicious.

Serves: 4

Preparation and cooking time: 35 – 40 minutes

Ingredients:

4 middle sized potatoes, peeled
2-3 large leeks, white parts only
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1oz/30g butter
2 cups (½ l) hot vegetable stock
1 cup (250ml) milk
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
Parsley or chives for garnish, or
crème fraîche, or
few thin slices of bacon, baked in the oven for 3-4 minutes and crushed in bite sized pieces

Method:

Begin by preparing your vegetables – peel and dice the potatoes, chop onion and garlic. Trim the leeks and discard the tough outer layer. Wash them thoroughly in cold running water, slice finely and drain.

In a large heavy based saucepan melt the butter over medium to low heat. Add the onions, garlic, leeks and potatoes and give them a good stir round, so they are well coated in butter. Season with salt and pepper, cover and let the vegetables sweat over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the leeks are soft and tender.

Add the stock and milk and bring to a simmer. Be careful, when adding the milk to the soup, (better pour it slowly, stirring continuously) and, once you’ve actually added the milk, have the heat not too high, because it may boil over. Leave the soup covered and simmer gently for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Leeks and potato soup with baconMeanwhile you can prepare the bacon – arrange the slices in a single layer over baking sheet (I cover it with parchment paper to save some greasy washing).  Put them under the grill and set the oven to 160C/320F. Let them bake for 2 or 3 minutes – just until they get crispy. Turn once, if needed (I do it when slices are thicker). When the bacon is ready, leave to slightly cool, and break (or cut) into bytes.

When the vegetables are tender, take the soup off the heat and leave it to cool for few minutes. Transfer the soup into a blender, or puree it using a hand blender. Leave some small chunks, if you like it this way or make it smooth and velvety.

Check the seasoning and return the soup to the saucepan, to keep it hot till serving.

Serve hot, sprinkled with the bacon bytes. Or you omit the bacon, adding a swirl of crème fraîche and some freshly chopped parsley.

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