Well folks, it’s been awhile since I’ve made a dish focused on my favorite of all genera in the plantae kingdom! ALLIUM! It’s been at least a couple weeks, right? Maybe. I’m so over winter and I’m setting my sights on spring, so naturally spring vegetables, particularly onions, have been on my brain. Shopping at Fairway this weekend I picked up some lovely organic leeks to go with my over populated garlic and shallot collection back at home.
I wish I had some hardneck garlic for this recipe, because I’ve heard it helps to create a more balanced soup, but I only had the softneck variety. I’m completely okay with the heat the softnecks pack, but if you are not the biggest fan of garlic or onions, or heat, I’d avoid this recipe.
Since it was snowing again on Valentine’s Day, it was the perfect opportunity to take it slow and let this potage develop into a fragrant and delicious masterpiece. The soup can be made in about an hour and a half, but I extended the cooking time a bit. I believe I started around 10AM and served at 1:30PM. It is now Monday, and I’m pretty sure I still smell like garlic (sorry, husband and co-workers).
1 tablespoon butter
Olive oil, for drizzling, as needed
20 cloves of garlic, about two heads, divided
2 large or 4 small leeks, sliced
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, Piment d’Espelette or substitute hot paprika, to taste
1 tablespoon white wine
32 ounces vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni tied with twine – I used a bundle of rosemary, parsley, sage, and bay leaf
4 small to medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
First, start with roasting one of the garlic heads. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice off the root end of the garlic head, exposing the cloves. Set the head, trimmed side down, in a ramekin. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Cover the ramekin with foil and place it on a baking sheet. Roast the garlic in the oven for roughly 15 minutes. The garlic should be soft, but not completely brown. Remove the foil and let the garlic cool. When it is ready to be handled, slide the cloves out of the skin and set aside.
Heat the tablespoon of butter in a Dutch oven over medium. Take the other head of garlic and smash and peel the cloves. Throw the garlic cloves, sliced leeks, and minced shallot into the pot, and season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red chili pepper flakes. Sauté the mixture for about 3 minutes, then turn heat to low. Cover the Dutch oven and let the mixture cook for 30 more minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid any sticking.
After, return the heat to medium and let the mixture brown up a bit. Then, add the tablespoon of white wine. Once that reduces, pour in 32 ounces of vegetable stock. Next, add in the cubed potatoes, roasted garlic, and tie the bouquet garni to the side of the pot. Of course, salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are soft, for at least 15 minutes or so.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and take out the bouquet garni. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup. Bring the soup back up to a boil and let it simmer for a bit longer or until you are ready to serve. Play around with the taste – add more salt, pepper, white wine, if necessary. Serve the soup with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of Piment d’Espelette. I also added some crispy pancetta, because I cannot get away with anything 100% vegetarian in this apartment. I also served the soup with a ham and mustard tartine. So many bold flavors going on in this lunch! I was in heaven.