a yummy substitute for maccas: simple yet scrumptious potato and leek soup with lemon garlic bread
“Less is more”. This is a concept I have often struggled with. After all, shouldn’t the things you love be embraced in abundance? Love, friends, food, passion… It was Mae West who revamped that stupid saying into a lifelong mantra: ‘Too much of a good thing is wonderful’.
While I wholeheartedly embrace this philosophy I have been forced to admit that while in the kitchen this is not the most effective means of bringing about deliciousness. There have been times when bountiful florets of fresh herbs and spices with heady aromas have sent me into a frenzy. I have added handfuls of this and pinches of that and ended up with a confused dish. Delicate flavours have been overshadowed and too many bold ingredients end up elbowing each other out of the way to compete for the standout flavour of the dish.
It’s all about complementary flavours not used in excess that lead to a delicate balance (that makes you want to lick your plate at the end of your meal). Therefore I have restricted very few ingredients to my “it’s never to the detriment of the meal to be heavy handed with this” category (garlic, garlic and garlic), and have learned to be sparing with others. It’s complimentary: “Oh cumin, you are so bold” and “Ah, but sweet paprika, you bring balance”.
One of my favourite meals that perfectly encapsulates this philosophy is Potato and Leek Soup. I started with the original recipe and immediately got carried away with adding garlic, white wine, nutmeg, spring onions… it was OK but the exquisite flavour of the leek almost vanished. It was as though the dish had dithered around trying to figure out what to be and ended up trying to be too many things at once. So I have gone back to basics with this one as it really is the superior version. However, the extravagant part of me still needs to be satisfied so I have paired it with a unique take on garlic bread as a zesty accompaniment. The Mae West in me is sated!
2 leeks, thinly sliced (white part only, the green parts tend to get quite bitter
500g of potatoes, peeled and chopped (Pontiac is a good one)
1 ¼ litres of good quality chicken stock
1/3 cup thickened cream
Fresh chives, chopped, to garnish
1 baguette, sliced into 1 inch rounds
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
Half a stick of butter
The zest of 1 lemon
1 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1. Preheat over to 180°
2. Heat a small splash of olive oil in a medium sized pan with a sturdy base. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the leek and cook for a further 2 minutes until it has just softened.
3. Pour the stock into the pan, cover, and bring to the boil. Remove the lid and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, for the bread, add all the ingredients (apart from the baguette) to a small bowl and combine thoroughly. Spread the butter mixture on both sides of each slice of baguette and then reassemble into its original shape. Wrap in foil and place in oven. Allow to bake for 15 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes of simmering, your potatoes should break apart easily when tested with a skewer. Remove from heat and use a handheld stick blender to puree your soup into a velvety smooth consistency.
6. Remove bread from the oven and check to see if it is cooked (the sides should be browned and crispy and the butter absorbed). If it is, take it to the table.
7. Ladle out the soup into deep bowls and serve with a sprinkle of chives.