Hearty and Healthy Cream of Leek and Potato Soup with Caramelized Carrot Puree and Italian Sausage and Pancetta

A while back we posted a wonderful recipe for Italian Potato Soup with Leeks and Pancetta. That potato and leek soup is quite brothy with chunks of potatoes, leeks, pancetta, mushrooms and so on. With leeks now coming into season we have noticed a large increase in the number of leek soups appearing at local restaurants. Specifically, last week we went to Colterra in Niwot, CO to celebrate Justine’s birthday and were pleasantly surprised to find that the soup of the day was a cream of leek soup. We had to try it and we were anything but disappointed. However, this soup was quite different than the soup that we brought to cookingandbeer.com a short while back. Colterra’s leek soup was thick and rich. It is a soup that you could just crave on a cold, snowy winter day (yes, they are right around the corner folks). Having acquired some leeks from the local farmer’s market last week as well, we decided that we had to make our own cream of leek soup.


[sc:adsense1]
Yet, we wanted our soup to be a bit different since, well, many of us tend to watch what we eat more and more these days and your standard cream based soup is going to be packed with calories. While this makes the soup extra creamy and delicious, it does bring up the fat content and makes for a somewhat unhealthy dish. That is where the potatoes come in. Unlike our previous potato soup with leeks, here we use some of the potatoes to thicken the soup and the remainder to provide texture. Potatoes are a wonderful thickening agent since they are loaded with starches. Think about it this way, when you make mashed potatoes, all you are doing is pureeing the potatoes and the end result is a thick (and creamy if you use the proper potatoes) potato puree (on the contrary, if you puree, say, zucchini, you get a water mess that is quite thin).

With carrots also in season right now, I thought that it would be nice to include them in the soup as well. However, just adding carrots to a soup is quite bland and has been done for centuries now. So, why not caramelize the carrots (after all, carrots are packed with sugars) and make a carrot puree to mix with the soup right before serving. Better yet, I decided to add a touch of freshly grated nutmeg to the carrots to give the dish that wow factor, that something that nobody would expect. The carrots are so rich and creamy that they could almost be confused as cheese in the soup. No kidding. Justine insisted that I put a ton of cheese in the soup when in fact it was just the carrot puree.

Lastly, as if we did not do enough so far, I crumbled some sausage and diced some pancetta and crisped it in a saute pan for two reasons. First, the fat is used to cook the shallot, onion, garlic, and leek for the soup itself. And, second, a heaping spoonful of the crispy sausage and pancetta mixture on the soup gives the soup a wonderful touch of heat (from the sausage) and just a touch of pig’s fat (from the pancetta) that set this dish apart form the rest. Now all the soup needs is a little cheese and some croutons and it is ready to be served.

While this soup does contain some heavy cream, the main liquid is just chicken stock and the potatoes act as the thickening agents, thus making a delicious and hearty, yet quite healthy cream of leek and potato soup.

Please enjoy.

Diced pancetta and kale.

Potatoes and carrots are cubed and sliced, respectively.

The italian sausage and pancetta is nice and crisp!

The soup is simmering away.

The carrots have caramelized and now it is time to puree them.

The caramelized carrot puree.

Our “Hearty and Healthy Cream of Leek and Potato Soup with Caramelized Carrot Puree and Italian Sausage and Pancetta” is served!

 
[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:135]