Our family tries to schedule a warm weather break from the snow and cold every year. For a variety of reasons, that vitamin-D-laced trip did not happen this winter. I think most of the country will agree that, if there was ever a winter to hit the beach, THIS was it! So the arrival of daylight savings time – the harbinger of spring – is a tough sell for me. Yes, I love the extra hours of sunlight in the evening, but that’s just more time for me to stare at the feet of cold, wintry snow in my backyard. Fortunately there are signs of spring at the grocery store, including some gorgeous fresh leeks that I used to make this Roasted Potato Leek Soup with Homemade Croutons.
A couple things that make this soup stand out from other versions: 1) You roast the veggies before pureeing them. Caramelized veggies = major flavor boost. 2) See those green flecks in the bowl? Arugula. Also wilted in the oven. That bit of peppery bite is crazy good in this soup. 3) It’s made with Greek yogurt for added protein and creaminess and a modest amount of half and half to keep the rich flavor intact. All in all, a reasonable indulgence.
The homemade croutons on the top might be my favorite part. I love the contrast of that crunchy nugget with a bite of the thick, rich soup. Totally optional, of course, but they are never skipped in our house. Just like I’ll NEVER abstain from winter vacation again!
2 pounds Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
3 large leeks, cleaned and cut into 1″ chunks (white and green parts)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 large handfuls baby arugula
½ cup dry white wine
4 (14 oz) cans chicken broth
¾ cup half & half
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
⅓ loaf stale bread, cut into ½ inch cubes (I used a sourdough boule)
1½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Add potatoes, leeks and garlic to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and gently stir to coat vegetables. Pour vegetables on a sheet pan keeping everything in a single layer. Roast for 40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes with a spatula. Scatter arugula on pan and return to oven for 5 more minutes. The vegetables should be very tender and the arugula will start to wilt. Remove pan from oven and place on heat-proof surface. (I used the top of the stove.) Pour wine on hot pan and scrape bottom of pan to remove brown bits.
Working in batches, add ¼ of roasted vegetables and pan juices and 1 can chicken broth to blender and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large soup pot. Repeat until all vegetables are pureed and all chicken broth is used. Gently reheat soup on stovetop using medium low heat.
Once soup is warm, whisk in half and half, yogurt and Parmesan cheese. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve warm with homemade croutons on top.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss bread cubes, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast for 15-20 minutes or until toasted to desired level, stirring occasionally. Cool completely and store in a sealed container until ready to use.
A note about the leeks: try to keep the 1″ inch chunks of leeks intact rather than peeling them apart for roasting. They will be less likely to burn if they are in larger pieces. Alternatively, you can peel the layers apart but toss them in midway through roasting the potatoes.