Garlicky Potato Soup with Pancetta Chips

Amy writes:
It was a chilly, dank afternoon. Last week temperatures were in the 80s, now they are damp low 60s. Work has been crazy. I've been stressed and haven't been sleeping well. Chris had a late afternoon dentist appointment and I knew anything he had to chew was just not going to work for dinner. All in all, I was feeling a bit sluggish and uninspired. Could we have gotten take-out (again)? Sure. But I wanted, no, I needed to cook something. Something new.

So I got in my car and turned on the Top 40 station. Lady Gaga and Katy Perry sang about California Gurls and Pokerfaces as I drove to the grocery store. Surreptitiously, I lingered in the magazine/book aisle and browsed for dinner ideas, soups in particular (since they don't require much chewing). America's Test Kitchen Special Collector's Edition "Best-Ever Recipes" caught my eye. I picked it up and there it was on page 46 - "Hearty Garlic-Potato Soup." Cheap ingredients (pay day is two whole days away), plenty of prep work (my version of therapy), hearty (it's even in the name!), and it's soup, so it's essentially warm and comforting. Folks, we have a winner.

While I'm certainly no one to mess with America's Test Kitchen, nonetheless, I made a few adaptations. Here is my version. We loved it, and it certainly warmed up an otherwise chilly, dank afternoon.

For the pancetta chips:
6 thin slices pancetta

For the soup:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and chopped small (about 1 cup's worth)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 whole garlic heads, top third cut off and loose outer skins removed
1 48-ounce can plus 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
3 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 medium red potatoes, skins-on, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
ground black pepper

To prepare pancetta chips: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the slices of pancetta onto the paper. Bake for 3-4 minutes each side or to desired crispness. Remove to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

To prepare the soup:
Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the chopped leek and cook 5 minutes until soft.

Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add 6 cups of chicken broth, the garlic heads, bay leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium heat for 40 minutes or until garlic is very tender when pierced with a fork.

Add the potatoes, another 1/4 teaspoon salt, and continue to simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove garlic heads and squeeze the cloves into a separate bowl. Mash garlic cloves with a fork to make a paste.

Stir the garlic paste into the soup and add the cream and thyme. 

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy with some potato chunks. Add 1/2 to 1 cup remaining chicken broth, to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with a pancetta chip. Makes approximately six servings.  


jck said...

Another resataurant-worthy creation. So satisfying and delicious. Thanks for sharing.

Carole said...

This sounds good. Thanks for linking up with Food on Friday: Garlic. Cheers