Leek & Potato Soup

Part of this soup is pureed to add body, but it remains chunky and chowder-like and is also good chilled. If you make it ahead and reheat it, you may need to thin it with a bit of water.

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks (root and dark green parts removed), sliced crosswise (to yield 2 cups), washed, and dried
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt; more to taste
  • 1 hearty sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • Small pinch saffron, crumbled
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, or other medium starch potatoes, peeled and diced (to yield 2 cups)
  • 4 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Creme fraiche, for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a heavy-based pot, heat the olive oil and butter until quite hot. Add the leeks, onions, and salt, and then turn the heat to medium low. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened and a bit browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the saffron, cayenne, and garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and chicken broth. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig and bay leaf. Transfer 1 cup of the soup to a blender to puree and then return the puree to the pot. Adjust the seasonings. Ladle into shallow bowls; garnish with the parsley, creme fraiche, and pepper.
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