Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Potato Soup--It's CHUNKY!

OK, this isn't just potato soup. It's not just potato leek soup. It's a mish-mash of potato leek and the yummy Zuppa Toscana from the Olive Garden. Yes, I will admit that I, too, am pretty excited that we are getting our first Olive Garden here in my town, mostly because of the soup-salad-breadstick lunch with the Zuppa Toscana soup. I came up with the idea when our CSA box from Full Circle this week had a leek and kale in it. So try it, let me know how it goes. I found it very tasty, pretty easy, and VERY filling.

CHUNKY Potato Leek Soup

1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 stick butter
1 pound ground pork (I use this instead of sausage because it lacks those naughty nitrates/nitrites)
24 oz. chicken stock or broth
5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8-10 oz half and half
1 packed c. chopped kale (optional)
salt and pepper

In a big soup pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. When it's melted, add the leek and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are a little brown on the edges. Salt and pepper them.

While they are cooking, brown the ground pork (or ground sausage if you prefer) with salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you like--since I use ground pork, I also add garlic powder, dried sage, and a little cayenne) in a fry pan.

When the veggies are done (see picture below), deglaze the pan with the stock. Add the potatoes and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft. At this point, if you like a chunkier soup (CHUNKY!), you can mash by hand with a potato masher or whatever floats your boat. If you want something very smooth, run it through your food processor or use a stick/immersion blender. I did it chunky. Add the sausage, stir, then add the half and half. I would add the half-and-half until you reach a consistency that  you like. Add the chopped kale. Heat the mixture through, until the kale begins to wilt, then serve.

We served this with a nice, crusty loaf of sourdough bread. It was pretty darned good. But I'm still going to Olive Garden when they open.
Here are the browned bits from the cooked veggies that you will work off by adding chicken stock. YUM. If you use a non-stick pot, you will not get all of this color.
Here's the final product. The kale this week was a purple variety, hence the dark specks (I promise, I didn't burn it!).

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