Vegetarian leek soup

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From Kristin Basta and Guy Massey

[Editor’s note: Lovely soup-porn photo clearly not shot live at Soup and Bread (it’s far too tidy), but rather by Kristin at home.] 

8 medium leeks or so (about 3 pounds), trimmed, leaving white and pale green parts only, and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 or 2 carrots, chopped
2 or 3 celery ribs, chopped
   salt
   black pepper
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 small thin-skinned potatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups roasted vegetable stock (we used a version of the one you posted a few weeks ago – really good!)
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  creme fraiche or chilled heavy cream, hot harissa (see note below), bacon (cooked and chopped) – all optional and on the side…

To prepare:

Wash sliced leeks in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and drain well in a colander.

Cook leeks, onion, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in 4 tablespoons butter in a large, heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Peel potato (if you feel like it: we left the skin on) – and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, then add to onion mixture along with wine, stock, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in parsley and simmer soup, uncovered, 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and keep soup at a low simmer.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook roux, whisking, until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups simmering stock (from soup), whisking vigorously (mixture will be thick), then stir or whisk mixture into remaining soup and return to a simmer, stirring well.

Blend soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), about 1 minute per batch, transferring to a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Reheat if necessary, then season with salt and pepper.

If you’d like a dollop of cream, beat heavy cream in a chilled bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it almost forms soft peaks.

Serve soup as is, or topped with whipped cream or creme fraiche. Guy likes it with bacon, and I [Kristin]  think it’s tasty with a couple dashes of harissa (a North African chile paste) for a little heat. (Those with time and the inclination can make their own harissa. Chicago folks can get theirs at the Middle East Bakery on Foster.)   

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