QSS stands for three of my favorite adjectives: Quick, Sweet, and Smoky. I suppose it should really be QSSC, since this rustic soup is also deliciously chunky.
My friends, I threw this together on my lunch hour just now. Well, insomuch as I have a lunch “hour.” Working at home means my day is relatively unstructured, but I set a timer when I started—getting from inspiration to placing my empty bowl in the sink took 44 minutes. (Chop the potatoes into fairly small pieces to make them cook faster.) So that’s the Q.
The first S comes from the handful of finely chopped raw apple that gets scattered on top. It lends the tiniest hint of sweetness, and once it’s stirred in you get surprising little nuggets of crispness every few spoonfuls.
Second S: bacon. Of course. In my home we use turkey bacon, but regular will do just fine, I’m sure. I also added a sprinkle of smoked paprika to the bowl, for prettiness as much as flavor.
There you have it, folks. Quick, Sweet & Smoky Potato Leek Soup. Perfect for an at-home lunch, and perfect for those “oh crap it’s 6:00 already?” dinners.
Edited to add: I had a brainstorm while emailing a friend, who was getting ready to make this for dinner. A splash of apple cider or juice, added with the broth, enhances the flavor immensely. I added some when I reheated the leftovers and it was dee-lish. Really plays up the bit of sweetness, but not in a cloying way at all. The recipe has been edited to reflect this why-didn’t-I-think-of-it-sooner tweak.
Quick, Sweet & Smoky Potato Leek Soup
4 strips bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips (I use turkey)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
2 leeks, whites and pale greens only, finely chopped and washed well
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/4” pieces (I used Yukon Gold)
Salt & pepper
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
A generous splash of apple cider or juice, anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 cup
1/2 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. If using turkey bacon, you may need a tablespoon of olive oil. With a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
- If there’s not much fat left in the pan, add a tablespoon of oil. Add the leeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until quite soft, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook another minute or two.
- Add the broth and apple cider and raise heat to high. When it boils, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and let it cook 15 minutes.
- When the potato chunks are fully softened, use a potato masher (careful—don’t splash yourself) to mash them into the broth. Cover and simmer another 3 to 5 minutes, until it thickens nicely.
- Serve with the cooked bacon, chopped apples, and a pinch of smoked paprika topping each bowl.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Hells, yeah. Texturally this soup is pretty perfect for babies. If you’re at all concerned about lumps, use a blender or immersion blender to puree baby’s portion. If your baby is on finger food, put some chopped apples on her plate separately. Leave off the bacon—it’s too salty for the youngest eaters.