Roasted Potato Leek Soup with Irish Soda Bread

by Kristin on November 24, 2009

How does Ina Garten do it? She can take any recipe and somehow make it 10 times better than any other version. What’s her secret? Maybe it’s that she often roasts vegetables to bring out their natural sweetness, and she’s not afraid of butter or cream either — and lots of it. I’ve been making a potato leek soup from The New Vegetarian Epicure as my standby recipe for years, but no longer (sorry, Anna Thomas). As for the soda bread, the Avoca Café recipe here is the only one I’ve ever made. It’s so easy and foolproof — flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and buttermilk — that I doubt even the Barefoot Contessa could improve on it.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

Serves 6 to 8

Don’t worry if you can’t find any arugula (rocket), the soup would still be good without it.

2 lb (900 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (or substitute any waxy or red-skinned potato)
4 leeks, white and light green parts chopped and cleaned well
1/4 cup (60 ml) good-quality olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (50 g) baby arugula, lightly packed
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine, plus extra for serving
6 to 7 cups (1.4 to 1.7 liters) chicken stock (or use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (225 g) crème fraîche
1/4 cup (25 g) freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup (240 ml) of the stock and cook over a low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.

In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups (1.2 liters) of the stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they’re all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups (240 to 480 ml) of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, crème fraîche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup (25 g) of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan.

***

Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Avoca Café Cookbook

Makes 1 loaf

This is the easiest bread to make, and it cooks in only half an hour. Don’t worry about its lumpy appearance — it’s meant to look that way. It’s fabulous with hearty, wintry soups, but the leftovers are equally as good for breakfast the next morning, lightly toasted and spread with jam and butter.

3 3/4 cups (450 g) plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (400 ml) buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450?F (230°C). Grease a loaf tin very well.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Gradually mix in the buttermilk to make a moist dough. Place in the greased loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped underneath. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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