Search This Blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bacon and Leek Soup

As you can probably tell, I had some leeks I needed to use up this week.

I'm still fairly new to cooking with leeks, so my culinary mind is still filled with a wide smattering of thoughts on how to cook and prepare them, as gleaned recently from various cookbooks and websites all over the place.  I like to research as much as possible about something of which I am ignorant.  In the hopes of no longer being ignorant.

Let me say that they are far less complicated than most people will make them out to be.  Yes, you have to make sure you're only eating the tasty bits, and yes, you need to clean out the sand and dirt, but other than that they're basically just like a milder scallion.  I would even argue that you could use leeks in any recipe that calls for scallion instead.  I would NOT recommend the converse, however... as substituting onion or scallions into a recipe calling for leeks would probably not work out, as leeks are significantly milder.


I bought some leeks and wanted to try out a few new things.

Just the other day I cooked up some roasted leeks to go with my Roast Beef Sandwiches and they turned out fairly well.  A little slimy for my tastes, but good.  I sliced them lengthwise in that dish, and washed them by rinsing lengthwise as well.  If you are interested in that methodology for preparing leeks, please read that post!


I deliberately saved some of the leeks (including the green leaves) because I also wanted to try making a leek soup, which incurred a different methodology entirely for preparing the leeks.

So, let's get into my Bacon and Leek soup.  Yes... I added bacon.  I don't feel bad about it.  I really don't.  It was utterly delicious.

I had taken a jar of turkey stock from the freezer the day before, in order to thaw.  Turkey not for any particular reason, other than that was the stock I had on hand.  I believe this was from a very long time ago... but whatever, it was frozen and still sealed well...

And, of course, the other day when I was preparing my roasted leeks, I saved the leaves and made a bouquet garni out of them and a smattering of bay leaves.  Here's how I did that, if you're curious:

First, I chopped off the green parts of the leeks, which are often and otherwise considered inedible.  

I rotated the leaves in each stalk around until the naturally occurring slits in the leaves all lined up:

By doing this, it basically makes all the interiors accessible, which is handy for washing the sand and dirt out.  You can look closely in this photo above, and see little specks of sand and dirt before I washed them.

After rinsing them under the faucet, I put them all back together, and sandwiched in the middle about a dozen bay leaves (of varying sizes).  I tried to make sure that no jagged edges of the bay leaves were sticking out or could potentially be transmitted into the soup.  I've heard scary stories of bay leaves being so sharp that they can slice up your internal organs if ingested!!!  Scary stuff.  Ever since then I've been a little wary... possibly more than is needed, but whatevs.

So, once sandwiched altogether, I brought out my trusty butcher's string and tied them very tightly.

I was fairly certain nothing was coming out of there.

Anyway, I had made those up the other day when I first prepared this bunch of leeks, but I anticipated their use later on, and just put them in a plastic bag in the fridge for a day.

They were still fine when I threw them in my soup.

So here's that soup... really quite simple actually.

The thawed, concentrated, stock, with two equal parts water added (so the ratio was 1 part stock to 2 parts water).

And then the two bouquets of leek and bay:

They floated on top for the first hour or so, but after that sank further down which was good.

Next I chopped up my leeks:

 These were really easy to wash, and this method of preparation was significantly easier than the sliced method from the other day.

I made sure to move these around a lot in my colander, to be sure to get all the sand off.  It wasn't as difficult as some people would lead you to believe.

Anyway, next I sliced up some bacon.

Bacon really does make everything better, doesn't it?  I wish I ate less bacon... and that desire has (whether consciously or not) manifested to only one package a month tops... often less than that.  In fact, this package was the first one we've bought since coming back from the holidays... and we hadn't had any for a while before that... so there hadn't been bacon in the house for probably 3 months.  But the point is that I still feel terribly guilty about eating it.  It is probably the single worst thing I put in my body.  It is just too effing delicious though, isn't it?

Oops - I just realized I picked up some pancetta for my wife's birthday meal last month... so I guess that has to count.  So, I was probably more accurate with the "once a month tops" kind of thing.


Anyway, back to the soup.  The leeks got fried with the bacon to soften em up, and to get some extra fat from the bacon.

I also chopped up a few scallions for a dash of flavour and colour.  Just as with the leeks, I chopped the white and pale green parts up and mixed them in; however the green leaves of the scallions I sliced carefully into large-ish rings.  These would be added later in order to give a little colour and texture.

After the bacon was reasonably cooked, I scraped the entirety of that frying pan directly into the soup.  I added a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and a healthy sprinkle of dried parsley leaves.  I brought the whole mix up to a rapid boil, stirring constantly, and this is what it looked like at that point:

Once boiling, I turned down the heat all the way to low, covered it up and just let it blip away for about 6 hours.

The soup was positively piping at that time, and looked awesome; all the fat from the bacon had separated and all the veggies had completely softened.  Even my bouquets had practically liquefied.

I'll admit that it had been my plan to serve this up just like this.  However, right at the last minute (literally) it occurred to me to just give it a round or two with my immersion blender.  That fat just looked too unappetizing to me.

This worked astonishingly well.

I seriously gave it only two or three pulses, and the ENTIRE soup pureed instantly!  It was like magic!  I can only think the leek soup was saying to me, "Dude I don't want to be slimy and gross, please make me velvety and smooth"... "ahhhhh, yes"...

I took the bouquets out before pureeing of course!!!  Hopefully that was pretty self-evident.

CLOSE-UP of Bacon Leek Soup!
Anyway, the soup was ready, and as an accompaniment I decided to whip up some quick garlic cheese toast out of some old bread.  It was a good choice.  I am pretty sure the leftover italian bread ends were whispering to me, "Dude, I don't want to end up as croutons, please make me delicious with cheese and butter, and dippable into your velvety bacon and leek soup!"... (and then of course, upon eating them,)... "ahhhhh, yes".


So here was my relatively simple supper of bacon leek soup with garlic cheese toast.

"ahhhhh, yes."

It was delicious and leeky.  But it was a little fatty.  I had to bring out a glass of red wine to help me with digesting the fats. ;)  But this would be a perfect meal to have on a cold, blustery winter's day, and would definitely fill you up with hearty goodness!