Friday, September 24, 2010

Potato Leek Soup with Kale Chips

My mother used to make a Baked Potato Soup that was a bomb of pureed potato, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream and bacon. I always thought of the soup as unhealthy because of how high it was in fat. But it was a special family soup. My mother loved making it and I loved eating it!
Fast forward 15 years and I have changed my views about what is healthy and nutritious. I embrace fats in my diet, especially butter fat from both butter and cream and whole milk (as long as it's a good pastured source). No longer do I think that such a soup should be slandered as unhealthy. There are some considerable alterations that one can make to make this soup more nutritious.
First off, my mother always peeled the potatoes. She was using russet potatoes, or your average Idaho Potatoes. Here in the Northeast, farmers do grow russets, but they are quite a bit smaller here. What I see everywhere are creamer potatoes or waxy potatoes. This time of year you can still find the little 'new' potatoes because the potato season is just beginning. I have gotten a couple pounds of potatoes from our CSA for the last three weeks and they have all been these creamer potatoes with very tender skins. Potatoes with their skins intact are far far more healthy. Potatoes in general I believe receive a bad rap. High in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, iron and protein to start, this tuber may have some carbohydrate calories, but it sure supports a nutritious diet. But skins are where alot of the nutrients lie, so keep them on and learn to love them. In this soup you won't even know that they are there. And I did scrub them very very very well.
Second of all (drum roll), I made my own stock for this soup. Last weekend I boiled a pot of chicken bones on low for four hours just like Sally Fallon told me to. Then I boiled it down to a very thick broth and froze them in my silicone muffin cups. I had forgotten where my ice cube trays were. But the muffin cups worked just fine! After all the bitching and moaning I did about making my own stocks, I overcame. Who here is proud of me??

Lastly, I cut back on the amount of bacon. I used about 4 ounces of true artisan bacon from Flying Pigs at the Union Square Green Market. They still use nitrates, but I am not as worried about them after a reader suggested that nitrates occur naturally and non-naturally. I really am trying to investigate all sources of information for a truly independent opinion. I have read that the non-natural sources have been found to be carcinogenic. I need to do more research there. I simply assumed that if I bought artisan bacon at the farmer's market (at $15 a pound no less) that they would not be using nitrates. Read your labels guys! I do know that the pork is pastured and humanely treated though.

Potato Leek Soup
About 2 pounds of potatoes
4 cups of chicken broth (or enough to almost cover the potatoes)
4 ounces of bacon, diced
3-4 small leeks, sliced
1 cup of heavy cream

In a 3 quart saucepan, place the potatoes and broth. Boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer to allow the potatoes to get nice and soft. In a large frying pan, cook the back on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bits and drain the grease, but leave 2-3 tbsp of fat. Fry the leeks in the remaining fat until soft, maybe 10 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, add the leeks into the potato pot. This next step is much easier with an immersion blender, but you can puree using a food processor too. Add the cream (substitute with milk if you wish, or just add milk if the soup is too thick) and puree the leeks and potatoes and their skins, everything all together. Stir in the bacon bits and enjoy. Like really really enjoy.
As far as the Kale chips go, did you know about this? Who's been holding out on me??? I got this recipe from the guy that was standing behind me in the line to pick up my CSA veggies. When he said it was the only way to eat kale I knew I had to give it a try. Thank goodness I stood next to him.
Kale Chips
1 Bunch of hearty kale, the flat kind (I am not sure you can do this with the curly kind, but I am sure a reader will tell me)
Drizzle of olive oil
Kosher or Sea Salt
Cut the very very woody stems off the kale, but leave an inch or so of stem in place as a 'handle'. Spread the kale in one even layer (no overlapping!) on a sheet pan. I had to use two pans for my bunch of kale, which was not all that big. Drizzle the kale with a little olive oil, sprinkle them with salt. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. But check on them. It went by really really fast for me. Then just remove from the oven and enjoy.
I didn't tell Thing 1 that it was kale. I just told him they were chips. He ate the first one (and crumbled it all over my nice clean couch), and then promptly handed me back the stem and said "I like chips, they are good. I am going to get another one." He must have eaten 10 of them when it was all said and done. Did I hear that right? Did both of my children eat dark leafy greens this week? Score two for Mommy.
Don't forget to check out Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade! There are lots of real food articles to read!


  1. I would make this right now except it's 9 am and I'm at work.

  2. LOL! I am so glad you like it. My only nutrient beef (pardon the pun) with this recipe is that it's a little light on protein. I should probably serve it with a steak or something. But now I am hungry, and you're right, it's only 9am.

  3. I've made kale chips with the curly kind. It works just as well. The soup sounds good. I will have to try this. And congrats on making the leap to making your own broth.

  4. So how did Sally Fallon tell you to make chicken stock? I am VERY interested in trying it out myself. And I definitely am going to try those Kale chips.

  5. I am probably bastardizing the recipe as I have not memorized it, but I took roasted chicken bones with meat still on them and I covered them with water, brought it to a boil and then lowered it and simmered it for about 4 hours. I did all the simmering with the lid on while I was with the kids. The extra time really did it. I have tried to make broth for an hour or two, but it was always gross and thin tasting. Those extra hours do something.

    Then I strained it once with a regular strainer and again with a tea strainer, because my chicken had the skin still on it and little pieces of the skin had broken off and were clouding up the broth. Then I placed it back on the fire and reduced it until I only had maybe 2 cups left. I poured it into my muffin cups and let it cool overnight. They were very gelatin-y. Then I froze the muffin cups, popped them out of the silicone and I had broth "ice cubes"! I have since found my ice cube trays thank goodness!

    Fallon also recommends carrots and onions and celery with the bones. I just didn't have any that day.

  6. I'm proud of you for making your own stock, COB! The trimmings from leeks make chicken stock exceptionally good so be sure to save them in your freezer next time you have some.