Since we’re officially into fall (meaning here at home, we’ve turned on the heat), it’s time to shift focus and explore some heartier recipes. Voila: Sweet Potato Leek Soup! We’ve served this many times over the years with rave reviews and requests for the (not-so-secret) recipe.
This is another discovery from the NYT collection, authored by Florence Fabricant. So here it is!
We make it on the thicker side, but the consistency is easily adaptable to your personal preference.
WARNING: This recipe may require math skills. If this makes you nervous, just stick with the listed quantities for all ingredients.
Serves: 2 with ample leftovers. This recipe makes 8-10 cups of soup.
Total Time: 1:30
Fill-O-Meter: Versatile — can be a meal in itself or a starter.
Leftover potential: Excellent! Put some in the freezer and enjoy later.
Wife’s Rating: Soothing, tasty, not too sweet, not heavy - delish!
3 Tbsp butter
2 cups chopped leeks (usually 2 - 3 medium sized leeks)
Note: My experience with leeks is confined to grocery stores where they are sold in small bunches (2 or 3 per bunch). Buying them at a farmer’s market may be a different experience. If it is, drop a line.
2 garlic cloves, minced (We use more, of course)
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, in 1-inch dice
3 cups water, approximately
1 - 1½ cups milk or half-and-half
Salt and ground white pepper
1 Tbsp minced cilantro leaves for garnish
Stock pot - 8 qt works well - you’ll have about 12 -14 cups of soup cooking.
Measuring cup (4 cup if you have one)
Immersion blender or food processor
Slicing and Dicing
Since you’re going to be cooking the leeks right away, get those prepped up front. The potatoes and garlic will be prepared while the leeks are cooking.
Clean and Chop Leeks
It is very important to thoroughly clean the leeks - they will be extremely sandy. No one likes crunchy where it doesn’t belong. Epicurious has a nice guide to cleaning leeks here.
For expediency, the summary is:
Slice off the the root. Peel back the stalks and trim them down to the point where they change to a lighter green. You’ll know it when you see it!
Cut each leek in half lengthwise. It’s ok to slice all the way through since we’re going to chop them anyway.
Now, chop the leeks crosswise. 1/4” - 1/2” slices are good.
Put all your chopped leeks in a bowl of cold water and smoosh them around with your hands. The sand should release from the leeks as you agitate them and it will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks out of the bowl into a colander to drain.
Note: Remember quantities are assuming 2 cups of chopped leeks. If you have more leeks, get out your calculator and adjust all other quantities proportionally. Show your work. My math-challenged wife was completely befuddled by all this. If you’re in the same boat, just use 2 cups of leeks and call it a day.
Put your stockpot over low heat, add and melt 3 Tbsp butter.
Add the 2 cups of chopped leeks. Sautee slowly until tender but not brown. This will take about 10 minutes.
While the leeks are cooking:
Mince 2 cloves of garlic
Peel 2 lbs of sweet potatoes and dice them into 1” cubes.
When the leeks are ready, stir in the garlic and simmer for a minute or so.
Add the sweet potatoes and enough water to cover them fully.
Cover and simmer 20 minutes or more, until the potatoes are tender.
Unleash your immersion blender on the soup, pureeing until you have a smooth texture.
Note: If you don’t have a immersion blender (“boat motor” according to Emeril), ladle or pour the soup into your food processor and puree. Return the puree to the stockpot when done. Just be careful transferring the soup back and forth.
Add 1 cup of milk or half-and-half, then bring the soup to a simmer. Still too thick? Add more milk or half-and-half. Soup too thin? Let it simmer, uncovered until you’re happy with the consistency.
Season with salt and ground white pepper
Serve with a dusting of cilantro and a chunk of warm, crusty bread.
You can thank me later!