I know I’ve talked about my Polish background in posts about kielbasa and pierogies, but there’s more than the Polish half to me. If you haven’t guessed by my name (Colleen, meaning “girl” or “maiden” in Gaelic), I am part Irish, too. The O’Briens, on my mother’s side, passed down some fiery Irish genes to supplement 1/4 of my background. I competed in Irish step dancing from when I was 4 until I was 15. No, I wasn’t crazy like the ones on TV, but I do know the difference between a reel and a jig and am acquainted with the term “poodle socks.” I remember those dancing years, during this season, we’d be carted around from one smokey bar to the next, with stops at nursing homes in between, to perform as part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Aside from step dancing, enjoying potatoes and whiskey, and a healthy admiration of Celtic knots, I’m also fascinated by the tales of Irish immigrants that settled in the regions near to here, like the Molly Maguires in the coal region.
So, in honor St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish heritage, I am posting this recipe for potato leek soup. This recipe doesn’t call for any milk or cream, making it not so bad for you (vegan, in fact!), and very inexpensive to whip up. If the soup is too thick for your taste, you can add some extra water after you purée it. Serve this with some crusty bread and an Irish beer. This weekend, I plan on experimenting with some bangers and mash, so perhaps you’ll see that recipe, too!
Potato Leek Soup
- 2 T. olive oil
- 4 leeks (Jett’s Produce)
- 4 stalks celery (Jett’s Produce)
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (my garden)
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder, optional
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 6 c. water (or vegetable stock, if you prefer, but not necessary)
- 6 medium potatoes (Padula Potatoes)
- 1 bay leaf
- crusty bread (we used Potato Bread from Apple Ridge Farm)
- Slice leeks and celery 1/4″ thick. (Great tutorial for cleaning & slicing leeks here. Make sure to freeze the dark greens for making broth!)
- Heat olive oil in large soup pot or dutch oven. Add leeks & celery and season with salt. Cook leeks over medium heat stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes.
- Add thyme and chili powder to leek mixture, cooking and stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add water, potatoes and whole bay leaf.
- Cover, bring water to boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Remove whole bay leaf.
- Purée soup with immersion blender (or in small batches in blender(not more than 1/2 full)).
- Sprinkle with black pepper and serve hot with crusty bread.
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