From Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Croutons

  • 2 c cubed brioche
  • 2 T vegetable oil

For the Soup

  • 3 small leeks
  • 1 1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 8 c chicken stock
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 T sour cream

AND...

  • 6 oz Gruyère, cut into medium dice
  • 2 T snipped fresh chives

METHOD
Croutons
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a platter with paper towels.
2. Toss the brioche cubes in just enough oil to moisten them; season with salt and white pepper to taste. Spread the cubes in a single layer in a sheet pan and bake to a light golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Take them out of the oven when they’re a shade paler than you’d like, as the hot oil will continue to cook them for a minute or two.) Transfer the croutons to the pre¬pared platter.
Soup
1. Cut the root ends and coarse green tops off the leeks, then slice the leeks in half lengthwise and coarsely chop them. Wash the chopped leeks thoroughly by immers¬ing them in several changes of water, then lift them out of the water and pat them dry.
2. Peel the potatoes and chop them into 1-inch chunks.
3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and a good pinch of salt and let the leeks sweat for about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and mix to coat them with butter. Add the chicken stock, thyme, and bay leaf. Slowly bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and leeks are very tender, about 25 minutes.
4. Let the soup cool slightly, then ladle it into a blender (in batches, if necessary) and pu¬rée until smooth. Adjust the seasoning and fold in the sour cream. (If making the soup in advance, quick-chill it in a bowl set over a basin of ice, then cover and refrigerate; reheat the soup over medium heat.) Adjust the seasoning, then ladle the soup into heated bowls and top with the croutons, cubes of Gruyère, and chives.

Tip: The golden color and slightly nut¬like flavor of Yukon Gold potatoes add extra depth to the soup’s look and taste.