riffs and variations on a single note

Everywhere I turn this winter, I bump into a delicious feature on potato-leek soup.  Both Dave Lebovitz and the Kitchn ran simple recipes that seemed to invite a little experimentation.  I've been trying to decide what to make for Soup and Bread (I'm cooking February 17th), which has been an awesome excuse to order soups out and tinker with old recipes at home.  A bunch of broccoli in the fridge paired with all of the recipes invading my rss feed provided some inspiration for a broccoli-cheese/potato leek mash-up soup.  Next time, I think I'll involve beer and a lot more cheese.  This particular variation combined my love of silky pureed soup, pork fat, and caramelized roasted vegetables. A nice weeknight meal, but Andrea and I are working on something much meatier for the Hideout!

Potato-Leek Soup with Broccoli and Bacon

2 heads of broccoli, cut into small florets
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 lb small red-skinned potatoes, cubed
2 medium leeks, washed thoroughly and sliced
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
5 slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 cup or so milk/cream*
shredded aged cheddar for garnish
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss broccoli florets and red-skinned potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil and spread evenly onto sheet pan.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.  Roast in oven for 30 - 45 minutes, turning broccoli and potatoes every fifteen minutes until browned and potatoes are cooked through.

In large pot or dutch oven, crisp the chopped bacon over medium heat.  Remove bacon from pan and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to pork fat.  Add leeks and a pinch of kosher salt to hot pan and cook over medium or med-high heat for 5 minutes, or until leeks are soft.  Add peeled potatoes to pot and add enough water to just cover potatoes.  Simmer the potatoes and leeks, covered, for twenty minutes or until potatoes yield easily to the tip of a knife.  Remove pan from heat.

Puree with an immersion blender** until smooth, adding milk or cream if necessary to reach desired consistency.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  You can mix the crisped bacon, roasted broccoli, and potatoes into the soup pot or garnish the top of each bowl individually.  Don't forget the cheese!

*If you're feeling really decadent, you can drain the water from the potatoes and leeks and mix the veg with only milk or cream and a little butter, omitting the water altogether...like really thinned out mashed potatoes.

**You can use a regular blender, just please be careful:
-fill it only halfway
-leave off the small cap in the center of the lid, covering the hole with a folded kitchen towel

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