Kathy Gunst's Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup

2:26 PM, Feb 25, 2014   |    comments
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Kathy Gunst is the author of "Notes From a Maine Kitchen." She also writes for Yankee Magazine. Her latest article, "Soup for a Crowd," is featured in the March/April edition of the magazine. The article is on a new twist on potlucks, dinners featuring a variety of soups.

For more information on Kathy Gunst click here: KATHY GUNST

For more information on Yankee Magazine click here: YANKEE MAGAZINE

Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Chive-Walnut Swirl

Total time: 60 minutes; hands-on time: 25 minutes

Leeks and potatoes are good companions, and here they get a zingy boost from sharp Cheddar. This is pure comfort food, smooth, rich, and bursting with flavor. The chive-walnut swirl is added at the table, highlighting the smooth white soup with a gorgeous green color and a cheesy, herby, nutty flavor and texture. This recipe is adapted from Kathy's book, Notes from a Maine Kitchen (Down East: 2011)

For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds leeks, washed, ends trimmed, green parts discarded, whites thinly sliced
2 1/2 pounds potatoes, any variety, peeled and chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
7 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

For the swirl:
1 cup fresh chives, chopped
1/3 cup walnut halves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Prepare the soup: In a large soup pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the leeks, stir, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring to coat, for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly. Using an immersion blender or standing blender, purée the soup until completely smooth. Transfer the soup back in the pot if needed and sprinkle in the cheese. Stir over low heat for another minute, then taste for seasoning.

Make the swirl: Use a food processor to pulse the chives and walnuts until finely chopped. Add salt and pepper and the oil and process until well blended; the mixture will be thick and chunky. Add the cheese and pulse several times to incorporate. Adjust seasoning, if needed.

To serve, pour the hot soup in a bowl and swirl in a generous teaspoon of the Chive-Walnut-Cheddar swirl. Yield: 6 main course or 12 first course servings.


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