Baked Potato Soup

The two biggest things I miss while living in L.A. — parking spaces and rain.  I get way too excited if I see either of them.  However, having lived here for awhile, one thing has rubbed off on me.  I hate driving in the rain.  For Angelenos, rain is our kryptonite.  Sure the surfers get excited, but most everyone else regards the darkening skies with trepidation.  I’ve known people who’ve called in sick to work, kept their kids home from school or cancelled dinner reservations all because it was raining.  Seriously.

So on a chilly, rainy day when you refuse to leave the house, what’s a girl to do?  Make soup.

Baked Potato Soup
(barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6

1 head of garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks (white & green parts only)
5 – 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (divided)
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup sour cream
ground black pepper

minced green onions
bacon crumbles
sour cream
grated cheddar cheese

Cut leeks in half.  Rinse to remove any dirt.  Slice thin.

Rinse the head of garlic to remove any outside dirt.   Cut the top third off the head of garlic.  Pop out a bunch of the garlic cloves from this top third and mince them. Peel any loose skin off the remaining two thirds of garlic.

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat.  Add leeks to butter.  Cook until soft (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently so they don’t brown.  Add minced garlic.  Cook for another minute.  Add the remaining whole 2/3 head of garlic, 5 cups of chicken broth, bay leaves and ½ teaspoon salt.

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes.  Garlic should be tender enough to pierce gently with the tip of a knife.

Add potatoes.  Simmer, partially covered, for another 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Discard bay leaves and garlic head.

Add sour cream and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Puree in pot using an immersion blender.   (You can also puree the soup in 2 batches using a regular blender or food processor.)  Don’t puree the soup too smooth.  It’s best if it’s still a bit lumpy, with some chunks of potato.  (If your soup’s too thick, here’s where you can add the extra cup of broth and simmer for another few minutes.)  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream, bacon, cheese and green onions.