March 2, 2010

Cheesy Potato Leek Chowder

It is unofficially soup week at The Delectable Kitchen.  After enjoying the last drop of Pumpkin Bean Soup, I was on a quest for more hearty fare.  Cheesy Potato Leek Chowder to the rescue!  I adapted this recipe from a similar one in Cooking Light, but you would never know that it is a lighter soup.  The little bit of Swiss cheese melts beautifully and gives this chowder a thick, creamy base.

I don’t often cook with leeks, but I’m always delighted by their subtle flavor.  I’ve read that the green stalks of a leek are often bitter and should be discarded.  Always the conservationist, I tend to use every bit.  I think that the slight sweetness of the carrots and half-and-half in this chowder help to offset any potential bitterness.  Then again, the bitterness theory could just be an old wives’ tale because this soup is delicious!  Only savory flavors here!

Cheesy Potato Leek Chowder
1 tbs olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup cubed carrots
1 cup cubed yellow squash
2 15.75-oz cans chicken or vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 cup half-and-half
½ cup Swiss cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste, and parsley for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the leek and garlic and saut√© 3 minutes or until tender.  Add potatoes, carrots, squash, broth and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat.  Simmer at least 20 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.  Puree half of the soup in a blender and return to the pot.  Or, you can use a stick/immersion blender if you have one, to puree half of the soup in the pot itself.  Add the wild rice, half-and-half, Swiss cheese, salt and pepper.  Heat until cheese melts, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

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