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Twice-Fried Potatoes & Caramelized Leek Soup

Twice-Fried Potatoes & Caramelized Leek Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced into rings

1/2 cup white wine
1 small onion, diced
2 heaping tablespoons finely milled flour (such as Wondra)
3 strips uncooked bacon (or vegetarian substitute), cut into small pieces

3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup half and half (I used reduced fat)
1 splash sherry
1 splash fish sauce (optional)
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, chopped (optional, for garnish)

1. 1st round potato pan-fry: heat 1/4 cup oil olive and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in a large, heavy metal skillet, until oil shimmers. Add the potatoes in a single layer and turn each to coat well. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally so that all sides brown. Remove potatoes to a plate to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, caramelize the leeks: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter on medium in a 4 or 5 qt stock pot or dutch oven, until the oil shimmers. Add the leeks and stir to coat well. Spread them out in the bottom of the pan so they have good surface contact. Turn heat to medium-low and allow to cook until a deep golden brown (15 – 30 minutes, depending on the type of pot you use). Keep an eye on the leeks, and stir occasionally to ensure they brown evenly.

3. Deglaze the leeks with the wine and continue cooking until evaporated. Add the onions and bacon pieces and cook until the bacon is slightly crispy (about 8 minutes). Add the flour and stir well to coat the vegetables.

4. Add the vegetable stock, stirring well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer while you continue with the potatoes.

5. 2nd round potato pan-fry: drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the large skillet. Turn heat to medium, reheating oil until it shimmers. Slice the potatoes into 1/4″ disks. Add to pan and stir well to coat in the oil. Sauté for about 10 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through — some potato pieces will be slightly crispy; some tender and crumbly.

6. Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup a bit (it’s okay if the bacon gets chopped up; it’s there for flavor, not texture). The should be light golden brown and creamy. Stir in the half-and-half, sherry and fish sauce (if using). Reduce heat to low.

7. Add potatoes to soup, incorporating gently. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to suit. Before serving, stir in the cheese and ladle into bowls. Top with parsley or cilantro, if desired.