Leek and Artichoke Soup

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I must start out by apologizing to anyone that might actually be reading my posts. I’ve been derailed lately. Between traveling to Buenos Aires for a week (posts to come soon on my travels!) and spending a week with my kids in Baltimore for spring break, and the general trials and tribulations of mothering, I’ve had to take a little break from blogging. But after a nice hiatus of doing not much more than traveling, eating, and running my kids around, I’m motivated and ready to get back on the bandwagon. So.. without further ado, back to the soup :)

Following a recent guest post that I did on HEAL’s blog about the importance of buying and cooking with in-season produce, I’ve had spring ingredients on the mind. And with that being said, I’ve been craving artichokes. Given that life has been a little crazy lately with my son’s baseball schedule, it’s been easier to prepare soups, which can be made ahead and heated up when he needs to have a quick meal before a practice or game. So, after a little research on artichoke soups, I decided to prepare a leek and artichoke soup, which would utilize a few different in-season ingredients, since leeks are also freshest in springtime.

I was really disappointed to see that the artichokes in my local grocery store looked less than fresh, so I decided to use frozen artichoke hearts as the base for the soup. Don’t worry, I won’t judge if you do the same. It was much easier than prepping all those artichokes just to use the hearts anyways. I promise I’ll do another artichoke post as soon as I can find fresh artichokes at the market! To defrost the hearts, I put them in a bowl of lukewarm lemon water, until they were soft and pliable, then dried them as much as possible before sautéing.

The soup turned out delicious! It was creamy and mild, with a hint of tanginess from the artichokes and lemon. The leeks and shallots provided a nice sweet onion flavor that played well off the starchiness of the potatoes. In an effort to keep the fat content low, I used only 1/4 cup of heavy cream, which richened the flavor and gave the soup a silky mouthfeel. However, I felt that the soup needed to be thickened slightly, so rather than adding more cream, I mixed about 1/3 cup of cornstarch with a little water (to eliminate any lumpiness) and added it back into the soup which gave it a little extra body.

This soup was a HUGE hit with my family, with everyone going back for seconds (and thirds!). As with most soups, I found that the flavor improved after it was refrigerated overnight, and was delicious eaten both hot or cold the next day. Served with warm crusty bread, and a squeeze of lemon, it was a great option for a busy week night! A great recipe for enjoying your local springtime produce! Enjoy :)

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Leek and Artichoke Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 10oz packages frozen artichoke hearts
  • ½ lemon
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped shallots
  • 5 small white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch (if needed)
  • Chopped thyme and lemon wedges (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Defrost frozen artichokes by soaking them in lukewarm lemon water for about 20 minutes. Once hearts are soft and pliable drain the water and dry on paper towels before sauteing.
  2. Melt 4 tbsp butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the artichoke hearts, leeks, shallots, and garlic, and cook under tender but not brown. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the potatoes and the stock and increase the heat to high.
  3. Take the parsley and thyme sprigs and tie securely together with kitchen string. Add to the pot along with the bay leaf and additional ground pepper to taste.
  4. When the soup reaches a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for at least an hour (or longer).
  5. After the soup has simmered for at least an hour, remove the herb bundle and puree the soup in a blender, in batches, until smooth.
  6. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if necessary, and add the cream and additional tablespoon of butter.
  7. If the soup seems too thin, take ⅓ cup of cornstarch and mix it in a separate bowl with ½ cup of water to remove any lumps. Then add it back into the soup, whisking well.
  8. Serve hot with crusty bread and garnished with chopped thyme and squeezed lemon.

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