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Potato and Leek Soup with Pancetta

Nothing better on a cold winter night.

There’s nothing better on a cold winter night than a warm bowl of soup. Curl up in a blanket and by the time you finish this soup you will feel nice and toasty. Light a fire in the fireplace and you will get there even quicker.

We’ve had some pretty cold days so far this winter in our part of Texas; (we were in the 30’s this morning) and we have not lost any of our plants to a freeze. Usually we lose maybe a fourth of our yard if we have more than 3 days of freezing temperatures in a roll. When the temperatures start to drop, and this time of the year they will go from the 70’s to the 40’s and back every few days, I start looking for a soup to make.

This soup only needs some good saltine crackers. You could do a crusty French or Italian bread; which would be wonderful. But if it is just me and my hub then I will probably throw out a sleeve of saltines and we are happy campers.

My mother use to make potato soup using Coffee Mate as the milk part of the soup. I always loved that soup but when I started making my own I wanted to use something a little healthier than the Coffee Mate. My mother always used potatoes and onions but I think the leeks have a much milder taste than an onion. 

Do you have family favorite soup recipes? If you do, please leave comments down below at the bottom of this post. Both my mother and grandmother made great stews and chili. I’m still trying to make a good chili. My husband once said my chili never taste the same from one batch to the next. Since those comments I have gone to using Wick Fowler’s Two Alarm Chili mix and tweaking it for our taste.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Another good soup for a cold day is my Souffled French Onion Soup. I first had this at the CIA Copia restaurant in Napa, CA and the cheese soufflé on top does not deflate. I think it is because the steam from the soup keeps it high above the bowl. The soufflé’s is in place of the bread on top which sometimes is hard to eat. Sometimes I feel like I need a knife and fork to get through the bread. Next time I make this soup I’m putt some large croutons of bread on the bottom of the bowl, then the soup then the soufflé mixture.

Bacon can be substituted for the pancetta but I found this tiny cubed pancetta at Trader Joe’s and knew I didn’t want to chop up a bunch of bacon.

Cut the top part of the garlic head off and drizzle with a little olive oil and then wrap in a foil to form a pouch. Bake in 400° oven (or lower) for about 30-45 minutes or soft when you squeeze it.

After the garlic is done and soft enough to handle squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and set aside.

Heat a large saute pan and add the two tablespoons of butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted, add in the leeks first and cook about 10-15 minutes until they start to get a little translucent then add in the potatoes and cook until they start to brown a little.

After the potatoes and leeks have become tender, add in the chicken stock and seasonings and cook for about 20-25 minutes or potatoes are tender. Using a emulsion blender (or blender) puree the soup until smooth.

Fry the pancetta (or bacon) in skillet until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside to use as garnish.

Add in the cream and buttermilk and stir until combined.

Stir in the sour cream until it has melted.

Potato and Leek Soup with Pancetta

Ingredients

  • 1 large head garlic
  • 2 tsp. olive oil for drizzling over garlic head to roast
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 c. thinly sliced leeks rinse really good to remove all dirt
  • 3 lb. potatoes skin on
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 6-8 slices bacon fried and crumbled (I used some crispy pork belly)
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. Half & Half
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: Parsley or chives, chopped.

Instructions

  1. Cut the top off the head of garlic exposing all the cloves and drizzle with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and put in 400° oven for 40-45 minutes*. After the garlic is done and cool enough to handle squeeze all the cloves out of the skins and set aside.
  2. To a large soup pot add the 2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil and heat on medium until the butter has melted. Add the potatoes and leeks and stir occasionally until they have started to brown and get tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock and garlic. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir to loosen any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add in the thyme (stems and all) and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 20-25 minutes until potatoes are soft. The thyme leaves will fall off the stems so remove any stems you see and the bay leaves. Using an emulsion blender (or regular blender) add the potato mixture (may have to do in batches if using a regular blender) and blend until smooth. Stir in the Half & Half, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.