Compared to last year, we’ve had such a mild winter here in Calgary. After a weekend of freezing weather and snow, the sunshine is right back with balmy temperatures and warm Chinook winds that melt all the snow away.
This kind of Canadian winter I can almost live with. Well, almost indeed. In my perfect climate winter doesn’t exist.
Although there are a few things that people associate with winter, that I would miss. Like cuddling up on the couch with a hot mug of cocoa. And heart and belly warming comfort foods. Soup falls into this category for me – and this creamy vegetable leek soup is a perfect example of comfort food.
I absolutely LOVE soups. Light or rich. Creamy or chunky. All are warmly welcomed on my tongue and in my tummy.
When I made these Cheese Sticks with Leek a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of a vegetable leek soup from my childhood. Without much to go by, I set out to recreate it. In my memory the only vegetables in the soup were leeks and potatoes, together with ground meat (or was it meatballs?) and probably a lot of cream.
My own version is a little different – optimized, if I may say so. There is no ground meat, but we start out by crisping up some bacon. The bacon fat is then used to pre-cook the leek and corn. The crispy bacon bits are used as final topping later.
To the softened leek and corn, we add diced potatoes and carrots. Adding corn and carrots as additional vegetables (compared to the soup from my childhood) makes for a great colour and texture contrast. With only leek and potatoes the soup was rather dull, greyish looking.
Since this is a half creamy – half chunky soup, we are only adding as much broth as needed to cover the vegetables. Simmer until soft, then puree 1/3 of the soup; the rest remains chunky. I just used my blender. You can also use a food processor, just be careful not to add above the “liquid fill line”. There will be soup all over your counter otherwise.
(I imagine you could also use an immersion blender, if you own one – I don’t. You can puree parts of the soup right in the pot, which means less dishes. Yay! Just make sure to leave plenty of chunks; all depending on preference.)
Add the puree back (if not using immersion blender) and season the soup. Start with 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, oregano and black pepper; then add more to taste (I ended up with probably about 1/2 teaspoon each). For a little heat I also used 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, but this is totally optional.
The end result is a delicious bowl of warming comfort food. It is perfectly creamy (without any dairy added) with hearty chunks to bite. Add the bacon as a topping on each bowl. I also like green onion slices and a few rings of raw leek (if you would like to try that, make sure to save a few in the beginning).
Leftovers of this vegetable leek soup make wonderful lunches and stay good in the fridge for several days.
- 3 strips (3 ounces) of bacon, cut into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 leek stalks
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 cups broth
- black pepper
- cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a large soup pot heat the oil and fry the bacon pieces on medium heat until crispy. Lift out of the pot and set aside.
- Cut off the root end and dark green tops of the leek. We only want the white and light green part. Slice open lengthwise and clean thoroughly (leeks tend to trap dirt in the layers). Then cut finely.
- Add the leek, garlic and frozen corn to the pot and cook on medium for a few minutes until the leek has softened (and corn should be thawed). Now add the potato and carrot dices and pour broth over. All the vegetables should be covered.
- Bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer until potatoes and carrots are soft (about 20 minutes).
- Puree about ⅓ of the soup in a blender. Add pureed soup back into the pot. Season to taste with nutmeg, oregano, black pepper (about ½ teaspoon each) and cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon), if you would like some heat.
- Served topped with the bacon pieces, green onion slices or even some raw leek rings.