I've been in such a soup mood with the chilly weather we've been having lately, and this one hit the spot. I made this soup with my friend Peter, and really loved it. The soup is velvety and smooth, and the crispy topping is both tasty and adds some texture. Plus, of course, anything is better with bacon! The leeks in the soup add a subtle flavor that really makes it something special. Be sure to buy orange sweet potatoes rather than the white-fleshed ones for the best color.
I'm off to Puerto Vallarta for Spring Break, so I won't be around for a week. Here comes the beach!
Sweet Potato-Leek Soup with Bacon and Crispy Leeks (adapted from Dragon's Kitchen, original recipe here)
4 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large leek
1/2 T butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 T finely chopped sage
2 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
1. Fry the bacon until crispy in a large pan. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan.
2. Cut off the root end of the leek and trim the tough green parts of the leaves off so that you are left with the white and light green parts (maybe an inch or two of green, depending on how fresh your leeks are). Quarter the leek by slicing through it once lengthwise and once crosswise. Take one quarter and slice it thinly; rinse thoroughly in a colander and reserve in a small bowl. Chop the rest of the leek coarsely and rinse thoroughly.
3. Add the thinly sliced leeks to the bacon fat and fry until browned and crispy. Transfer to the paper towel with the bacon to drain.
4. In a large soup pot, melt the butter along with a healthy pour of the remaining bacon fat (how much you use is up to you). Add the remaining leeks and saute 3-4 minutes until they start to soften. Add the wine, sage, and sweet potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the water and chicken broth, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Let the soup cool slightly, and then puree in a blender in small batches until very smooth, transferring the pureed soup to a clean pot. Taste and add salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer to make sure the soup is hot, and then remove from the heat and gently stir in the milk.
6. Serve with the bacon and crispy leeks sprinkled on top.