Creamy Green Garlic Soup with Potatoes

This is the soup I made last night: I modified a Cook’s Illustrated recipe to use the green garlic from our veggie box. It came out really tasty! I will say up front that this is not a low-fat recipe—it calls for three tablespoons of butter and half a cup of cream. To be frank, though, in the world of creamed soups, that’s actually not too bad. I have a recipe for vichyssoise that calls for half a stick of butter, three cups of whole milk and two cups of heavy cream. Plus this is a really hearty, filling soup; a bowl of it makes a meal.

The recipe could easily be made vegetarian by substituting another garnish (such as garlic croutons or crisp-fried onions) for the bacon, and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. As always, home-made stock makes for infinitely better soup.

Take about a pound and a half of leeks and chop up the white and light green parts—you should have about two cups. Also chop one bunch of green garlic (the white part, discarding the tough outer peel). My “bunch” had four stalks of green garlic, but you could use more, or less. Compensate by varying the amount of regular garlic, below.

Put a Dutch oven over medium heat and add three tablespoons of butter. When the butter melts and foams, add the leeks and green garlic, and sauté until soft (about five minutes). Meanwhile, peel and mince—or put through a garlic press—three cloves of (ordinary, mature) garlic. Again, you can vary the amount of ordinary garlic to suit whatever quantity of green garlic you have on hand. Keep in mind that green garlic is milder in flavor than full-grown garlic.

When the leeks and green garlic have softened, add the garlic cloves and stir until fragrant, about a minute. Add six cups of chicken broth, two bay leaves, and a teaspoon of salt, and turn up the heat a bit to bring the soup to a boil. Meanwhile, chop two pounds of red and/or yellow potatoes into half-inch cubes. You can use russets if you want, but you’ll have to peel them, as the papery skin of russet potatoes isn’t tasty like the red and yellow potato skins are. And I think the potato skins add a nice texture and taste to the finished soup.

If the soup comes to a full boil while you’re still chopping potatoes, just turn it down and let it simmer until you’re done. Add the potatoes to the soup and cook at a low boil until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

If you’re planning on garnishing the soup with bacon—and really, unless you are vegetarian and/or kosher, you should—you can go ahead and fry some up now. I used a strip of bacon per person, except I counted Davy as a person, and then I added an extra strip of bacon for everybody in the house who really loves bacon. Which is everybody. Your bacon may vary.

When the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat and stir in half a cup of cream and about two teaspoons of fresh thyme, or however much of it you can be bothered to pull off the stems.

Use an immersion blender to process the soup until it’s mostly smooth. You can also do this in a blender or food processor, but you’ll have to do it in batches to avoid a face full of hot soup. An immersion blender is really a handy gadget, especially if you make a lot of soups, and they’re not super expensive: it’s only about $25 for the Cook’s Illustrated-recommended Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer. While you’re blending, don’t be anal about getting all the lumps. It’s actually nice to have a slightly irregular texture to this soup; it’s supposed to be a potage.

Taste the soup. It’s going to want a boatload of pepper and probably lots more salt (unless you are using storebought chicken stock that’s already loaded with salt), so put that in. Taste it again.

Pretty tasty, eh? Dish it into bowls, sprinkle your bacon bits (or other garnish) on top, and enjoy a nice immune-boosting meal of garlicky spring soup.

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