For me, potato soup is the ultimate comfort food.
I like to make a big pot of it, laced with cream and herbs and leeks, on a cold day.
The first bowl usually gets the royal treatment: garnished with sour cream and a bit of shredded sharp cheddar.
The rest goes into single portions to be frozen for later.
Growing up, I looked forward to winter when I knew my mom would make potato soup.
She makes an excellent potato soup.
I like to think of my version as mom's potato soup, but on steroids.
Oh, and I like leeks. A lot.
So my version is loaded with them. Which is why it looks a little greener than most potato soups.
But I love the mild oniony flavor of leeks.
So here is my totally decadent potato-leek soup:
1 pound bacon, diced
3 leeks, sliced including white and green parts*
4 stalks of celery from the heart of the bunch, sliced including leafy tops
4 cloves of garlic minced
6-8 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken broth
4 tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs dried tarragon
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
cook bacon in large pot, then set aside
in drippings, cook leeks and celery over medium heat about 10 minutes, until softened
add garlic and potatoes; toss to coat
cook on medium heat about 5 minutes
add chicken broth cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 20-30 minutes. cooking time will vary based on the size of the potato pieces
off the heat, use an immersion blender or hand mixer to lightly puree the potato mixture (I like to leave a few chunks of potato)
in a separate sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat
add the flour, cooking for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly
add the cream and tarragon, stirring constantly until cream begins to boil and mixture begins to thicken
pour flour/cream mixture into potato mixture and stir well
add the reserved bacon pieces and cilantro and stir
the soup can get pretty thick, so I use more chicken broth to get it to a consistency I like (which is usually still fairly thick)
salt and pepper to taste
if you want to be really decadent, garnish with a dollop of sour cream or a bit of grated cheddar cheese.
*tip for cleaning leeks: place the sliced leeks in a large bowl of water and use your hands to break up the rings. let soak about 10 minutes and any grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl. use a slotted spoon to strain the leeks, being careful not to stir up the grit at the bottom of the bowl