Farmer Tom from Hope’s Edge delivered gorgeous fronds of leeks to me in early May last year – not nearly far enough into the growing season to have them as large as they were. But these leeks were special. They’d been heeled in and over-wintered under a deep layer of straw.
When we had a bumper crop of King Richard leeks last fall, I decided to give it a try. Who knows, right? As E and I tromped out to the garden to take a look, I could see bits of brown stem poking through the straw and I wasn’t sure they’d made it. Our property is windy and the deep bed of straw had been partially blown off – by all those blizzards this winter. But some stuck and that was enough! While I couldn’t make a stock out of the tips, I was sure I could use the tender white and lime green parts closer to the roots.
This recipe used up the rest of the watercress from a batch of local cress which I wrote about in the Maine Ingredient – Creamy Potato and Watercress Soup. Similar, to this soup, but creamier and more elegant.
Potato, Leek and Watercress Soup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups diced onions; about 1/2 a large onion
4 cups diced leeks; about 5 medium leeks
6 cups white potatoes, quartered and sliced thinly; about 4 potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups lightly packed watercress leaves and stems, coarsely chopped into 1-inch lengths
1/2 cup cream fraiche
In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, leeks, salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the broth and bring to a simmer again. Simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are cooked through and beginning to break apart slightly, about another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the watercress. Serve immediately with a dollop of cream fraiche on top.
Serves 4 to 6