Leek, Potato, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Soup with a Chive-Walnut-Cheddar Topping
Leeks and potatoes are good companions, and here they are joined by the sharpness of good, aged cheddar. This is pure comfort food—smooth, rich, and bursting with flavor. The chive-walnut-cheddar puree is swirled into the soup at the table, highlighting the smooth white soup with a gorgeous green color and a full cheese, herb, and nutty flavor and texture. You want to choose a really distinctive, very sharp aged cheddar for this soup.
THE SOUP: In a large soup pot, heat the oil over low heat. Cut the leeks lengthwise, then crosswise into thin slices. Add the leeks to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock, raise the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Prepare the topping.
CHIVE-WALNUT-CHEDDAR TOPPING: In a food processor, pulse the chives and walnuts until well chopped. Add salt, pepper, and the oil, process until well blended; the mixture will be chunky. Add the cheese, and pulse several times to incorporate. Taste for seasoning.
Let the soup cool slightly. With a blender or food processor, puree until completely smooth. Return the soup to the pot and sprinkle in the cheddar. Heat gently over low heat, and taste for seasoning.
TO SERVE: Place the soup in a serving bowl and swirl in a few teaspoons of the Chive-Walnut-Cheddar Topping. Serve hot.
Written by Kathy Gunst
Photography by Stacey Cramp