Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hearty Garlic-Potato Soup

Warning: This recipe is "plant your butt on a sofa" comfort food.

Which is good because I need some comforting. I have been relocating our Johnson City office to Greeneville this week and I am worn out. I have jokingly called this week my "on schedule, under budget, in pain" tour.

But when I got back to Knoxville last night, as tired as I was, I found myself wanting, no needing to cook. So it was off to the back deck for a little Big Green Egg therapy.

You could also make this on your stove top but like Jim Morrison of The Doors always said:

"You know that it would be untrue. You know that I would be a liar. If I were to say to you, I'm not in the mood to cook with fire."
[Authenticity of this quote might be questionable]

Hearty Garlic Potato Soup
Adapted from: America's Test Kitchen Magazine Best-Ever Recipes

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only (see instructions for processing note)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 cloves garlic minced
2 whole bulbs garlic, paper removed and top 1/3rd cut off like you do for roasting
6 cups chicken broth, low sodium
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and 1/2" diced (about 3 medium potatoes)
1 lb red bliss potatoes, peeled and 1/2" diced (about 4 large)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp thyme, fresh
1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped

The original recipe called for fried garlic chips but I found them to be bitter. Fortunately, I had also made fried leek rings and they worked out better so I'm leaving out the chips although you'll see them in the picture.

Fried Leek Ring Garnish
Cut the roots and green tops off of the leek. Cut off about 1" from the white end and then cut it into about 4 slices. Push the middle rings out with your pinky and discard the smallest inner rings. Separate the outer layers into individual rings so you'll have a bunch of tiny "onion" rings. Toss lightly in the flour. The dampness of the flour should help the flour stick to the leek rings, you aren't trying to batter it.

Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the leeks about 60 seconds, flipping once. You just want a light, crispy brown color. Remove to a cooling rack over a paper towel.

Now this step is very important, especially when you have had a bad week. Notice that the leek roots you cut off remind you of the Flock of Seagulls hair cut and have a "I Love The 80's Mr. Potatohead moment".

Dice the rest of the piece of leek. That should give you about 1/2 to 3/4 cup. You could substitute a mild onion.

I set up Alexis' BGE for direct heat at 325f and preheated our #12 Lodge cast iron dutch oven. You'll notice the absence of potatoes. That's because they don't go in for a while.

Add the butter and let melt. Saute the leeks for 5-8 minutes until softened. This will test your fire management skills, because when you are frequently opening the grill to stir, it's letting air in and feeding the fire. Watch your temperatures and adjust accordingly.

Add the minced garlic and saute another minute. Add the whole garlic bulbs (cut side up), bay leaves, salt, and broth.

Now I get to use one of my favorite words ever. I could say "ajar", "askew", "tilted" or or even say "partially covered" like the magazine did. But no. Place the Dutch oven lid on so it is catawampus.

Close the grill, stabilize the temperature at about 350 - 375f, and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. I find that with the hot cast iron in there, it really doesn't take much air flow at this point to keep the temps up. I only had the bottom vent open this much for the first 20 minutes or so.

After the 40 minutes, add the diced potatoes, cover (catawampusly, of course) and cook 15 to 20 more minutes.

Carefully remove the Dutch oven from heat. Don't worry that it doesn't look creamy yet.

Find and discard your two bay leaves.

Remove the two heads of garlic and squeeze the bulbs out like you would do to roasted garlic. Mash them with a fork and add about half of that paste to the soup.

Fold in the cream and thyme, cover with the lid (tightly this time, not all catawampus), and let rest for 5 minutes. The cast iron's carryover heat is still cooking.

Taste for seasoning and add salt (I added maybe 1/2 tsp), pepper (~1/2 tsp), and more of the garlic paste (I didn't add any more).

Use a slotted spoon to get about 2 cups of potatoes out of the soup into a blender. Add about 1 cup of the liquid. Puree for about 20 seconds. Be careful using a blender with hot liquid, I actually did this in two small batches of 1 cup potato/ half cup soup. Return to the soup mixture and stir it in.

Garnish with fried leek rings and chives.

Without hesitation, I will tell you that this is the creamiest, best tasting potato soup I have ever had. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if it was 30 degrees colder outside.

America's Test Kitchen wasn't lying when they added this to their currently available special collector's edition Best-Ever Recipes. Alexis found our copy at Food City for $9.95. It's available until December 13th so keep your eyes out for it. [Standard FTC Disclaimer].

Giveaway Reminder:
Both Larry of BBQ Grail and Curt of Livefire are each giving away a Masterbuilt Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer. Larry's giveaway ends Sunday and I think Curt's ends on Wednesday, so you can have it in your grubby little paws by Thanksgiving. Click on the links and enter both of them today.


  1. A turkey fryer! Oh I got distracted from the post, love the song lyric redo, and the potato head is a hoot! I roasted a ton of garlic this week. I over did a dish with it, but hey- I now have clean pipes and a stomach of steel...oh and no friends that want to get too close. Does lack of vampirnese also count?

    Great green egg soup recipe!

  2. Hey Chris,

    The soup looks so warm and inviting...:)Amazing..:)


  3. Chris - I'm glad to see that you had your sense of humor about you after such a long week. I like the potatohead and your use of the word catawampus. In fact, I might have to steal that word. I do however have to tell you that one of my favorite words is askew. I say it all the time, mostly when I want to drive everyone else in the family crazy, which is frequently. Payback, you know.

    Saying all that, this potato soup is screaming all kinds of comforting deliciousness. It looks like a killer recipe. I'm definitely looking for this edition of Best-Ever Recipes.

    Hope you and your family have a nice relaxing weekend!

  4. I have no doubt this is the best potato soup you've ever had. I already know it's the best potato soup I'll ever have and I haven't even made it yet, lol. It looks freakin' amazing! I love creamy soups that use REAL cream. And America's Test Kitchen never fails to impress. What a gorgeous bowl of soup. I usually always buy their special collector's editions of Best-Ever Recipes. I'll have to look for this one. Thanks!

  5. Looks amazing! I am going to try this when the weather gets cooler. Catawampus reminds me of my Grandma, who by the way grew up in Johnson City, TN and later moved to MO as an adult.

  6. That potato soup Lights My Fire. And too funny with the Mr. Potato impersonator! I love love love potato soup. Your version is a bit fancier than I make. I'll have to spruce mine up next time.

  7. The soup sounds awesome Chris, but I'm surprised Alexis lets you use her Egg.

  8. That's's official.. I'm coming to live with you and Alexis...I'm a good guest, I promise, I can even help with the making of meals!! :) This soup sounds and looks wonderful! Potato soup of any kind is pretty much my favorite. I have been wanting to try a form of garlic soup for a while...this will definitely be the one I try! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Chef E:
    Hilarious, so I guess you were exuding more than just confidence for the next day, eh?

    Dr. Sam:

    Too funny about askew. Your tactic reminds me of this Kids In The Hall skit:

    It is a good collection. It has about 90 recipes and I want to make about 80 of them!

    Me too, I got it from my Mom and grandmother both from North Carolina.

    Lea Ann:
    Oh, this is more involved than my usual too, but the results are well worth it.

    She was cool with it since it is not meat or BBQ.

    Ha ha, you can fight our 22 y/o for the basement "apartment". Seriously though, you'll like this soup.

  10. Okay. I am SO making this. Looks and sounds absolutely kinda soup, indeed!! Love the cool tater, also...the mangled lyric...ahhh... (big Doors fan. big.) ;) YUM!

  11. There's an old saying: "When making leek soup, first take a leek." Sorry. A busy recipe, but one that looks marvelous.

  12. I love soup and eat it all year long. I will be making this delicious soup soon, but I am afraid I an going to wimp out, and make it on the stove.

  13. Oh this looks heavenly and your commentary has me gigling.

  14. I. MUST. MAKE. THIS. SOUP. Could anything get better? Potatoes + garlic = Happy Pam. Loving this one.

    Sorry you had a long week but I bet this soup made you feel better.

    Love the Flock of Seagulls potato!

  15. You gotta love a post that quotes (or, possibly misquotes) the Doors and manages to throw in a Flock of Seagulls reference. I bow down to your blogger awesomeness.

  16. I love the ingredients in that soup! Roasted garlic pushes it right over the top. I also love Mr Potato Head - my favorite character of Toy Story (especially the monkey chow line). I'm feeling a little catawampus - too much wine, probably. :)

  17. Good Golly! this does look amazing!! Today is rainning and grey, this soup would be fantastic for today!

  18. This soup looks absolutely wonderful and sinfully delicious! What an excellent recipe that I will definitely be trying soon! Thanks so much for sharing it! Loved the Morrison spoof and Mr.Potato head pic! Hilarious!

  19. This soup sounds awesome!!! The quote sounds close enough for me, but the potato art was the clincher that you've had a long week! Looks like that cooking therapy paid off.

  20. I can tell you've had a crazy week when you start to get all flock of seagulls on us. I think you might need a nap.

    This garlic potato soup sounds really really good. Defintiely de-stress kind of food.

  21. I laughed out loud when I saw the potato head! Who says you shouldn't play with your food? :-) The soup looks absolutley amazing! Thanks for sharing, Chris!

    Kim in MD

  22. Love the leek dude -- don't think I've ever drawn one before.

  23. I laughed so hard at the quote & the Mr. Potato Head pic ;p Glad you had a little down time! The soup sounds super good!

  24. Being that I am a huge lover of potato soup this is screaming make me! Eat me! I hope I can make a potato head as good as yours when I do. This post was full of all kinds of awesome!

  25. First of all, great looking photos! And secondly, great sounding soup! Great job!

  26. "on schedule, under budget, in pain" tour. Sounds brutal and boring. I hope the soup helped!


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