New Orleans is gearing up for another busy weekend! The City is pulling out all the stops to honor its Irish heritage. There are the annual block parties at Parasol’s and Tracey’s, the Molly’s at the Market Irish Parade in the Quarter, the Irish Channel Parade Uptown, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Metairie, the Downtown Irish Club Parade, the Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade in Metairie and holiday happenings at many of the neighborhood Irish hangouts like Flanagan’s, Finn McCool’s, The Irish House, Fahy’s, The Kerry and Ryan’s. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing about all that! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, considering my level of daylight-savings-time-induced-sleep-deprivation), I can’t get home this weekend to celebrate. So I’ll be laying low on Sunday with the hubby, my three little leprechauns and a warm pot of Potato and Leek Soup. It’s a humble, no-frills Irish dish perfect for a quite St. Patrick’s Day celebration at home.
Potato and Leek Soup Recipe
3 large leeks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup half-n-half or heavy cream
Salt and black pepper to taste
Prepare leeks by cutting off and discarding the root ends and the tough dark green leaves. Rinse thoroughly under cold water, separating the leaves without pulling them apart. Cut lengthwise into thirds and chop. Place chopped leeks in a large bowl of cold water and stir the surface for a couple of minutes. Any residual grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Using a slotted spoon, drain leeks and transfer to a separate bowl. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and wilted, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic; cook another 2 minutes. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooked vegetables and set aside for garnish. Add potatoes, chicken stock, bay leaves and cayenne pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and gently simmer until potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes. Turn off heat, remove and discard bay leaves and puree soup until smooth using an immersion or regular blender (if using a regular blender, process soup in small batches to prevent a heat explosion); return soup to desired temperature. Add half-n-half and more chicken stock if mixture is too thick. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish with reserved cooked leek mixture. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.