A few weeks ago in Paris I sampled a delicious leek and potato soup at a Left Bank restaurant called Les Sellae. Although potato soup cooked with leeks is a classic winter offering in France, the inventive chefs had enhanced their version with contemporary touches by finishing the potage with swirls of Taleggio cream plus sprinkles of crispy speck (an Italian deli meat similar to prosciutto) and fresh dill. I tried recreating the soup with good results in Paris, and once home in New England prepared it again with a few tweaks. As I took sips of this hearty, warming soup, I had a Eureka moment when I realized that it would be perfect to serve for The Super Bowl this coming Sunday!
The soup takes about 45 minutes start to finish, and can be prepared a day ahead. I replaced the speck with prosciutto and sautéed the julienned slices several hours ahead. For the Taleggio cream, I simply melted bits of the tangy Italian cheese in simmering cream at serving time.
To round out the menu, add a salad of mixed greens tossed in a lemon and shallot dressing, a warm crispy baguette, and a bowl of pears, grapes, or apples served with your favorite homemade cookies.
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Leek and Potato Soup with Taleggio Cream
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leeks (white parts and light green parts only)
1 1/4 pds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock plus extra if needed
Scant 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp olive oil
5 paper-thin slices prosciutto (1 1/2 oz) , cut into julienned strips 2 inches long by 1/4-inch wide
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp chopped dill
1/2 heavy or whipping cream
3 oz Taleggio, rind removed and cheese cut into 1/2- inch dice (See market note.)
2 tsp fresh chopped dill
1. Heat butter in a large, deep-sided pot with a lid over medium heat until melted and hot. Add leeks and sauté, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, stock, 1/4 teaspoon salt and cayenne. Raise heat and bring mixture to a simmer. Then, lower heat, cover, and cook at a simmer until all vegetables are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
2. While soup is simmering, in a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil. When hot add the julienned prosciutto. Cook, stirring, constantly until just crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towels. (Prosciutto can be prepared 1 day head. Wrap in paper towels and refrigerate. Reheat in a skillet over medium low heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.)
3. Puree soup in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return it to the pot in which it was cooked. Or use an immersion blender and puree the soup in the pot. Season with several grinds of black pepper, and if needed with more salt. Stir in the chopped dill. (The soup can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, stirring.)
4. For Taleggio cream, place cream and diced Taleggio in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk constantly until cheese has melted and mixture thickens. Remove from heat and whisk several seconds.Then let mixture cool for 5 minutes so it will thicken more.
5. Ladle soup into 4 soup bowls. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Taleggio cream in a circular pattern over each serving. Sprinkle each portion with prosciutto and some of the remaining dill. Serves 4.
Market note: My local Whole Foods sells Taleggio, but if unavailable you can substitute a good Italian Fontina.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2019