The Perfection of Simplicity: Potato Leek Soup

Two ingredients. That's it. Well, if you want to be a stickler and count salt and pepper and a touch of olive oil, it's five. OK, and water makes six. But the oil method is optional, so we're back to five again but really, it's two ingredients. Potatoes and leeks. Two of the most humble ingredients, plus the simple alchemy of simmering water, come together to make one utterly blissful, satisfying soup. Read on for the recipe.

You can do anything to this soup. You can make it as is, which I highly recommend just for the experience of discovering how delicious a few potatoes and a few leeks cooked in water can be. Or you can guss it up a little with bacon, or some chopped herbs or a dollop of sour cream/creme fraiche. Doesn't matter, it's all good. And voila! A little taste of perfection in this oh-so-not-perfect world.

Potato Leek Soup

Peel and cube about three or four russet potatoes, enough for roughly 5 cups.

Leeks come in a variety of sizes, so slice enough to make a heaping 2 1/2 cups. I slice up the white parts and into the pale green as long as it stays crisp, stopping when I hit the darker green, fibrous part. Wash well in cold water and drain.

Enough water to cover.

Salt & Pepper.

Toss the potatoes and leeks in a soup pot with a pinch of salt. Add enough water to cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife, about 30 minutes, With a hand blender, or very carefully in batches in a food processor, or even with a potato masher and your own brute strength, blend until the mixture reaches the consistency you prefer. I like mine just a little chunky. Taste for salt and pepper and add accordingly.

Variations:

Sauté the leeks first in a little olive oil or butter. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Crisp three or four slices of bacon (streaky bacon if you've been watching my man Jamie) in a soup pot. Remove and let drain on some paper. In the remaining fat, sauté the leeks until wilted, then add the potatoes and water and proceed as above. You may need less salt due to the bacon. Serve hot with the bacon and some fresh thyme crumpled on top.

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Recipe, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.

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