Hello all, and welcome to Day 2 of my self-declared truffle week. Today I’m preparing a classic French potato and leek soup with truffles. This soup holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of a dish that was served at the first “real” job I’ve ever had. But to understand it’s full meaning, I’ll have to start from the beginning.
In 2007, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina for the summer. Someone very near and dear to me had passed away the year earlier and for that reason, Charleston, her former place of residence, tugged on my heartstrings quite a bit. Everything in that city reminded me of her and the many memories we shared together there. So my then boyfriend, now husband, and I decided to pack up our things and move to Charleston for me to try to get some closure while also indulging in some good ole traditional summer fun.
Of course, fun in a city like Charleston is expensive so we had to hustle to get jobs the moment we got there. I, having no real work experience at the time, chose to try my hand in the bustling food and bev industry of Charleston. I was sure that no one would be desperate enough to hire a newbie like me and that I would be forced to work at a fast food chain to pay the bills. Much to my surprise, however, I somehow managed to convince the manager of one of the hottest French restaurants in town, 39 Rue de Jean, to hire me as a hostess. (I still think it was a mistake. Either that or he was wasted during my interview.) And despite my intense love of food, especially French food, to this day that is the only job I have ever held in the restaurant industry. That work is hard! I walked away with an enormous amount of respect for restaurant employees and a humbled sense of self. Oh yeah, and an extra 10 pounds…they sent me home with a free meal at the end of each shift!
But that summer also provided an enormous amount of closure for me. Closure that I needed to move through the grieving process. To spend time around people and places that reminded me of the person I had lost. And to allow myself to feel calm and comforted throughout the process. Problem was, I’m pretty sure I found most of my comfort in a certain truffle potato soup that my place of employment happened to serve. I took it home with me probably four times a week! And for that, this soup is credited with both moving me through to a happier place in my life as well as the extra few pounds still lingering from its “comforting properties.” But don’t fret, I’ve come up with a lighter version of the classic soup here so that you can use it for your own comfort needs without gaining the extra LBs!
Potato and Leek Soup with Truffles
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 4 leeks, white parts only
- 5 large Russet potatoes, peeled
- 6 cups of vegetable broth
- Truffle salt (or regular salt), to taste
- A pinch of dried thyme
- 1-3 cups of 2% milk (or cream; choice and amount depends on personal taste)
- Truffle oil for garnish
- Fresh truffles, shaved (optional; if you’re feeling particularly indulgent and are lucky enough to have them!)
Heat butter and vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-low heat. Chop leeks finely, add to pot, and cook down until they begin to soften (about 10 minutes). While leeks are cooking, peel and chop the potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Add to pot and stir with leeks.
Add vegetable broth, thyme, and truffle salt to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. The salt is really dependent on your preferences, I’d start with 2 teaspoons and continue adding/testing from there.
Once at a low boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Process with an immersion blender or in a food processor until perfectly smooth; however, be careful not to over-process or else the potatoes will make the whole soup gummy.
Add cream or milk. Again, the choice and amount are very much dependent on your preferences as well as the size of your potatoes.
Garnish with truffle oil and freshly shaved truffles if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on them. If not, don’t worry, the salt and oil will provide plenty enough truffle flavor.
Taste testing as you go is really important with this soup, especially when it comes to the salt and milk.
I added about 6 cups of vegetable broth, but please know that I was working with some ginormous farmer’s market potatoes!
I used milk instead of cream, but if you’re really celebrating something or just looking for that rich, creamy flavor, I’d go with the cream instead (or some combo of the two.) Truffles do best in fat so they’ll really sing with some high fat cream in the soup!
This soup is vegetarian, but can easily be altered for a vegan diet as well. Simply use oil in lieu of butter and almond milk instead of cow milk.