Potato-leek soup with ham and dill

by admin on April 13, 2007 · 6 comments

The addition of white beans to this potato-leek soup adds heft to it without loading it down with too much potato weight. The white beans also add more texture to the soup.

Speaking of texture, you can purée it if you want, but I find that simply breaking up the potato with a wooden spoon and leaving the ingredients mostly whole leaves you with a more interesting soup.

For a textbook example of the importance of finishing, try the soup without the red wine vinegar and dill. Add a little dill and taste again. Add the red wine vinegar and taste again. Add the rest of the dill and taste again. See?

Potato-leek soup with ham and dill
serves 4

4 pounds leeks (6-8 medium), cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
kosher salt
fresh ground white pepper
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

1. Prep all the ingredients. Cut off and discard the dark green part of the leek. Cut off and discard the roots. Split the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse it well under cold water, making sure to separate each layer with your fingers to remove any hidden soil. Cut the leek crosswise into 1/2-inch ribbons.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the leeks and season with a light sprinkling of salt and white pepper.

3. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the white beans, potatoes and stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the ham and leave it alone to brown well, 1-2 minutes. Stir and brown on all sides, several minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

5. When the potatoes are tender, remove the soup from the heat and break the potatoes up a little bit with a wooden spoon. Stir in the cream, vinegar and dill and add more salt and pepper to taste.

6. Ladle the soup into bowls. Divide the ham evenly among the bowls and sprinkle each with more dill.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

catherine m.a. April 13, 2007 at 9:25 am

mmm….this looks soo good…

what about replacing the ham with pancetta?

Elizabeth April 13, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Pancetta would be excellent. We cooked this soup for Chip’s mom this week and topped it with bacon, which we also ate on top of a spinach salad with hard boiled eggs. The dill and vinegar really brighten this traditional soup.

Nino April 14, 2007 at 7:53 pm

DOH! No fresh cream in the fridge, no half-in half either. I substituted a little yogurt, admittedly not equal to real cream, when the soup had cooled a bit. It tasted wonderful anyway. I also left in a few dark green leaves from the leek–I like things to have a little bit more texture and color. I agree with you on the dill and vinegar, it really makes the flavors stand out. In the end it really reminded me of the soups in Eastern Europe and Russia (probably the dill played no small part).

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