Here are the fixin's for my bouquet garni. It includes bay leaves, rosemary, flat leaf parsley and peppercorns. A bouquet garni, for those who don't know the term, is simply a little pouch full of spices/seasonings that you want to infuse your food with, but don't want to actually eat. This way, when you are done cooking, you simply pull out the little pouch and discard - no fishing for sprigs of rosemary or little pearls of pepper.
Here are most of the remaining ingredients. Leeks, potatoes, shallots, celery all contribute to the lovely layers of flavor that give this soup such depth.
And here is the delicious finished product, complete (in my book anyway) with some shredded sharp cheddar and crisp bacon.
Everyone has a different way of making potato leek soup. This version is fabulous...my favorite so far.
Potato Leek Soup
Serves 6 to 8
2 dried bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp. crushed dried, but fresh is SO much better)
4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice
6 leeks, white parts only, washed well, thinly sliced
4 shallots, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Make bouquet garni: first wrap bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Then tie with a piece of kitchen twine, and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil and butter in a medium stockpot. Add celery, leeks, shallots, and garlic; cook on medium-low heat until very soft, about 45 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Do not brown. Add potatoes, stock and reserved bouquet garni. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until potatoes are very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove bouquet garni and discard.
3. Working in batches, pass the half of the soup through a food mill, fitted with a medium disk, into a large saucepan. Add the remaining chunky soup. Place the saucepan on a medium-low heat to warm soup. Slowly stir in milk and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
As a side note, I did NOT pass my soup through a food mill. I used my immersion blender. I have also in the past used my food processor. Anything goes.