We lovingly renamed this soup after my husband made a joke about me only making it when he was on call or out of town. It happens to be his favorite, so it was sort of ironic that I only seemed to make it when I was dining alone. The soup is technically called Creamy Artichoke and Leek Soup and it is from my favorite Food Network chef, Giada DeLaurentiis. I've tweaked it a bit, but not much. It is just fantastic and so simple. The fact that it sounds/looks impressive is just a nice bonus. Now is the perfect time to add a new soup to your repertoire.
A few words about leeks: I wouldn't suggest substituting anything for them. If you grocery store is out of leeks, postpone trying this soup. Leeks are one of those ingredients that cause the checker a bit of alarm as she quizzes me with a frantic "what are these??" when searching for the produce code. I think they are becoming more widely available, but my guess is that most people aren't comfortable approaching them. They are actually a wasteful little vegetable--you only use about the bottom third. To add to their charm is a bunch of sand/dirt hidden inside them that you don't want in your soup. So, cut the tops off down to the very lightest green part, cut off the root end, and slice the leek in half lengthwise. Slice into half moons at this point and then add to a bowl of cold water. Swish the leeks around in the water and the sand/grit will fall to the bottom. You can pull your clean leeks out of the top and give them a quick pat to try them off a touch before adding to your pot. I thought a couple of pictures might be helpful in this situation.
Creamy Artichoke and Leek Soup
-adapted from foodnetwork.com
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T olive oil
- 3-4 leeks (white and light green parts only), washed well and diced
- 1 large or 2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ c. mascarpone cheese (find this in the fancy cheese section. It is sort of like an Italian cream cheese, comes in a little tub, and is what is used in tiramisu. I love the leftovers whipped into mashed potatoes!)
- Chopped fresh chives
Heat oil in large pot, add garlic and leeks and stir. Add potatoes and sauté 5 min, stirring frequently. Add artichokes and broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Puree soup until smooth, then whisk in ¼ c. mascarpone cheese. Season well with salt/pepper, and top each serving with 1 T. mascarpone and fresh chives. To accompany soup, toast baguette slices (your shocked to know I prefer sourdough, I'm sure) in oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Use to dip in soup or crumble on top.
Note: This soup is usually a lovely pale creamy color with a touch of green. However, tonight I used vegetable stock that I later realized had tomato paste as an ingredient. When I poured it into the soup I discovered it looked like a rich beef broth. This did NOT make for a pretty-colored soup, though I assure you it was just as tasty as it always is. I won't make that visual mistake again. I promise your soup won't look like this!