I am on my second go around with sickness. Thankfully, it’s just a virus, and I’m feeling better today, yet I am still not really into eating anything but mild food. That being said, after having not eaten a thing but saltines yesterday, this morning I woke up feeling hungry for chicken noodle soup. Ordinarily, I would have made my own, but I’m sick, remember? Charlie pulled out a can of chunky chicken noodle and lovingly made it for me. (He takes such good care of me even when I’m not sick. I am Blessed!) I was happy to eat it (and that it stayed down), but it reminded me of why I like to make my own soups. It was borderline tasteless, brimming with sodium and fat and the noodles tasted like rubber.
Now I don’t know what to think of myself. Have I become a food snob? I used to love chunky chicken noodle soup!
This afternoon while Charlie was at the gym, I reached that stage of illness where you are really still too sick and weak to do much; yet you are so bored, your brain tells you it’s okay to get up and go make a pot of homemade soup. (After all, it’s not that hard.) I have a butternut squash sitting on the counter waiting to be cut up and roasted and turned into a beautiful, creamy soup, but instead I focused my attention on the ever present leeks in my fridge. I pulled them out, cut them up and threw them into a bowl of cold water to be certain there was no sand. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped about two and a half pounds of russet potatoes. (Why? Because if I didn’t, they were bound to start sprouting any day. We don’t eat a ton of russets.) It bears reporting that I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes in soups, but this is what I had on hand. Use what you have on hand, people!
Next, the leeks got drained, dried; then sautéed in some olive oil and butter for just a short time. Afterward, I added the potatoes, seasonings, and then six cups of chicken stock. The top went on and I let it boil for about thirty minutes-until everything was soft enough to blend.
At this point I was feeling accomplished and it dawned on me that we had a pound of bacon that also needed to be used before it was wasted. What better thing to do then to make some bacon as a garnish, right? I always make my bacon on a sheet pan with a rack, so this too, is really easy to do. I was just about to lay the stuff out in strips when I remembered having seen one of those Facebook videos that showed bacon being weaved together so it would form a perfect square for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. OMG! Genius! I just happened to have a big juicy tomato on the counter and some lettuce in the fridge. Poof! Done! I weaved that bacon like a professional bacon weaver and into the oven it went.
I was so proud when it came out looking pretty! (Seriously, I was envisioning the Instagram praise-fest about to happen! I am a sick girl and not in a good way.) I decided to take some of the smaller pieces of cooked bacon and drop them into the the soup for a little more Smokey flavor. See them?
Truth to be told: I did all of this today…but I made frequent trips to the couch to pass out, drink ice water, take my temperature, cough, etc. See that last soup photo? It’s not even hot. I just forgot to take the money shot so I fudged it. Now I am back, dying on the couch, but this blog is scheduled to go. LOL! (I really did love this soup, however.)
This photo below; now that’s actually hot soup! LOL!
2.5 pounds potatoes peeled and cut (I used russets but Yukon golds are better.)
3 large leaks sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter (REAL butter)
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (that’s two 32 oz cartons)
1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 pieces of cooked bacon crumbled
1/4 cup cream
3 tablespoons full fat sour cream
Juice of half a lemon
Salt & fresh ground pepper
1) Clean and slice leeks
2) Peel and cut potatoes (If you use Yukon Gold, skip peeling. It isn’t necessary.)
3) Heat olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven (medium high heat) Sauté leeks for about five minutes. Salt & pepper.
4) Add potatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, more cracked pepper. Stir.
5) Add chicken broth and bacon pieces. Turn up heat, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and put the lid on. Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to be blended.
6) When the vegetables are tender, turn off heat, remove bay leaves, stir in honey and allow to cool with the lid on about 30 minutes.
7) Pull out and mash (or rough chop) about a cup of the potatoes. Set aside.
8) Add cream and sour cream. Stir. Then blend with an immersion blender (This is what I use.) Add the reserved potatoes back in with the juice of half a lemon.
9) Taste. We like our soup spicy, so I usually add more cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.
10) Stir and cover. Turn the heat back onto low. Let the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Note: The best garnish in the world for this soup are caramelized onions! Also great: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions
PS- I ended up making a grilled cheese sandwich with the bacon lattice for Charlie. (By the time he came home from the gym, I was way too tired and over-extended to make TWO. I didn’t need a sandwich. I needed to be in bed.)
I present the Cha-Cha approved bacon, tomato, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese on Sourdough bread grilled cheese: