Monday, April 18, 2016

A Springtime Soup - Potato and Cheese Soup with Asparagus

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is the soup that I made for the lake picnic on Saturday. While I prepared it on Saturday morning, it could have been made several days ahead of serving. Like all potato soups, it thickens as it sits, but that can be remedied with the addition of extra stock or milk. The thyme and cheese make this an especially flavorful version of classic potato soup, and the asparagus is a springtime addition that adds a lovely crunch to each spoonful of the soup. Fat spears can be sliced into coins, but smaller spears should be cut be cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces. If the soup is made ahead of time, the asparagus and cheese should not be added until the soup is reheated for serving. I usually add lemon juice to creamy soups and sauces at the end of cooking to boost flavor and add a bit of acid to the mix. While the original recipe, which comes from Whole Foods, calls for red potatoes, I have used russets and Yukon Golds with good results. I tend to use whatever I have on hand and that is usually russet potatoes. While they don't hold their shape as well as red or Yukon Gold potatoes, I don't think that makes any difference in a pureed soup. When I have time, I use a ricer to puree the potatoes. Classic potato soup is grainy and those of us who learned to make it with a ricer miss that grainy feel on the tongue. As it happened, the folks attending the picnic were all good cooks, so I took the time to rice rather than puree the soup. I'm often asked why I don't use fresh thyme when I make this soup. Truth is, I do if I have it on hand, but I won't drop everything and run to the store to get it. I've found through trial and error, that 3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme is a good substitute for 6 sprigs or 1 tablespoon of the fresh herb. I've also found that this soup transports well. I used a 1/2 gallon thermos to get it to the lake on Saturday. The steaming soup went into a pre-warmed  thermos and it stayed piping hot  for 3 hours. It was a hit with my fellow picnickers and I had no leftovers to tote home, so, all-in-all, it was a great, if unusual soup, to take on a picnic. I know you will like this soup. While it is easy and relatively inexpensive to make, it is also delicious and represents peasant cooking at its best. I do hope you'll give this version of potato soup a try. Here is how it is made.

Spring Potato and Cheese Soup with Asparagus ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Whole Foods

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 pounds medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups whole milk (2% reduced fat also O.K.)
1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, thinly sliced into coins
2 cups grated white cheddar (about 8 ounces), divided
1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or to taste

1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, milk, salt, pepper and thyme and bring just to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
2) Using an immersion blender, or, working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Return soup to pot if it has been pureed in a blender.
3) Return soup to a simmer, add asparagus and cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from the heat, gently stir in 1-1/2 cups cheddar and ladle into bowls. Garnish with remaining cheddar and serve. Yield: 8 servings.

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1 comment :

Pondside said...

This sounds delicious Mary - just the right amount of 'spring' for an April soup and just the right amount of 'comfort' for the evenings that are still chilly.

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