Potato-leek soup with pear and bacon
While in Vermont last weekend, my darling little sister sent me an article about how much snow has fallen on Boston, because I hadn’t really noticed the newly-formed mountains all over the city. The article concluded with the incredibly depressing statistic that the last three weeks have given Boston more snow than Chicago has ever had in an entire winter. Just to rub it in, she included the message, “J you screwed up. You screwed up bad.”
With the city in an unfortunate and unwanted snowy cocoon, getting out of the house seems increasingly over-rated. So I’ve resorted to the hot soup, fresh bread, and a warm blanket on the couch strategy, and I think it’s a winner.
Especially if you choose this soup. Potato leek already had a lot going for it, but then I saw this soup and I couldn’t resist throwing a pear into the mix. Um, and the bacon was a no-brainer. Come on.
The soup requires just a little bit of babying at first, while you cook the bacon until super crisp (crispiness of bacon is not a negotiable point in my kitchen) and soften the leeks. But then you throw in the potatoes and walk away. This is a perfect time to clean the kitchen, attempt an unrelated photo shoot, or give in to the beckoning couch. Your call. Then it just needs pears and an immersion blender to finish it off. Stir in some mascarpone, add the bacon, dunk a slice of homemade bread, and snuggle up on the couch. Why brave the snow when you can fight it with soup?
- 3 slices bacon
- 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts sliced thinly
- 1½ lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 c. chicken stock
- ¾ c. dry white wine
- 1 pear, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 t. salt
- ½ t. smoked paprika
- ¼ t. pepper
- ½ c. mascarpone cheese, for topping
- Cook the bacon until crispy over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low if the oil starts to smoke. Set the bacon aside.
- Add the sliced leeks to the hot bacon fat. Cook over medium-low until the leeks soften and brown slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, stock, and wine. If the liquid does not cover the vegetables, add just enough water to barely cover. Cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes, until potatoes are very tender and starting to break down at the edges. (Russet potatoes may require a slightly longer cooking time.)
- Add the pear and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Off the heat, use an immersion blender to blend the soup, or transfer the soup carefully to a blender. Do not over-process.
- Season with salt, paprika, and pepper, adding more to taste. Return to medium-low heat and bring the soup up to a boil. Chop the bacon.
- Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and the chopped bacon.