Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happiness + Sunday Soup

I am so happy today.  The crescendo of my fall chaos has come and gone, the sun is shining and the baby is napping.  We started the day with a delicious breakfast of poached eggs and honey-oat toast, plus Skype sessions with grandparents and good friends (always heartwarming).  Then it was time for my two favorite Sunday activities: a long walk in the woods and cooking up a big pot of soup for the week ahead.

This week I felt like something hearty, so I decided to make a potato-leek soup, but I wanted this to be a bit different than the usual variety.  The inspiration for this recipe is a baked potato with all the fixings (an idea I got from Kath).  The leeks stand in for chives, and you could serve it with garnishes of shredded sharp cheddar and sour cream.  The real gems of this play on a baked potato are the "bacon bits", due to a new product we discovered at the co-op this week.

Awww yeah.  These things are like a cross between Canadian and regular bacon; nice and thick and meaty, and a lot less fatty than any other pork product we've recently used.  To be honest, I've never cooked with as much pork as I have this fall (veggie friends and Jewish relatives, please avert your eyes), and I don't know what this pork-a-palooza is about, other than the husband scoring that guanciale, and there being so much amazing local, uncured product for us to work with up here in VT.  In any case, these bacon ends are pretty amazing, but you could absolutely leave them out of this recipe for a veggie soup that would be equally delicious (and a tad more healthy).
1/4 lb. uncured bacon ends (you could also use regular thick-cut bacon or Canadian bacon, or omit the bacon for a vegetarian soup), roughly chopped
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
5 small red potatoes, cubed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 cup milk or cream
Sprinkle of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the chopped bacon (or two tablespoons of olive oil if making vegetarian version).  Saute until the fat begins to render and bacon begins to brown.
2) Add leeks, turn down heat slightly and cook for 20 minutes, allowing leeks to caramelize, stirring frequently.

3) Throw in cubed potatoes and sweet potato, and add the stock.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a simmer, and allow to cook through until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

4) Puree soup.  This is another situation where I love, love, love our immersion blender (put it on your Christmas list!), but the puree could also be accomplished by transferring the soup in batches to a blender or food processor.

5) Stir in milk or cream and season to taste with parika, salt and pepper.
Optional: To really play up the baked potato theme you could serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped scallion, and additional bacon bits.

I am so looking forward to the month to come.  This big event at work that just passed was my first major project to tackle post-maternity leave and the pressure was really on in so many ways.  Now that it is over, I feel like my whole being has exhaled.  As I sat among my cookbooks with a huge, steaming latte this morning plotting our Thanksgiving menu and chatting with the husband, I felt more like myself than I have in a long time.   I'm excited to have more time and energy to spend in the kitchen and the woods in the coming weeks and to share the results with you!  Happy Sunday.


  1. we'll send bacon if you'll send some of those amazing stuffed breads from the north end. deal?

  2. would pancetta bits work in place of the bacon bits? or not quite?

  3. pancetta would totally work. anything from the cured/smoked pork product genre would stand in nicely.

  4. this soup has been a staple in my life for 10 years and was introduced to me by to vegan college x-boyfriend. his version was of course vegan, no bacon and soy milk in place of the milk/cream. i smoosh it with a potato masher and leave it quite chunky which is very fine indeed. also, some dried dill is a wonderful addition. if you're not carbed out, devour with a fluffy loaf of ciabatta... mmmm...

    tonight i'm making your bacon version! can't wait to try the new spin. jane, how do you always know what i have in my garden, fridge, and freezer? i always find your recipes help me utilize ingredients i have on hand. thank you!

    besos. hale

  5. Just sent this recipe off to the husband/chef with the directive, "Please make me this!" :)

    And congrats on completing the conference here. It was a huge success by everyone's reckoning. You should feel proud, and at last, relatively relaxed! Good for you, J.