This is one of my favorite soups! It's from California Pizza Kitchen, but sadly they've taken it off their menu. :( At least I can still make it at home! It's easy to make a double batch and freeze some for later.
1/2 pound leeks (cleaned, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch; white part only)*
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, dried and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tbsp chopped scallion greens (optional garnish)
1. Place half the leeks and all the potatoes, water, salt, herbs and spices in a 3-quart pot over medium heat. While the potatoes are cooking, cook the remaining leeks in olive oil in a separate pan over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add soy sauce to leeks after they begin to caramelize; they should not be crispy or black. Continue cooking, gently, until the leeks are a uniform caramel color.
2. Add the stock to the leek pan and carefully pour leeks and stock into the potato pot. Use a rubber spatula to recover all pan drippings and add them to the potatoes.
3. When the potatoes are soft and crumbly, remove the pot from the burner; remove and discard bay lead an d process the soup to a course puree. Return the soup to the pot, whisk in cream and half-and-half. Bring the soup to a gentle boil and remove from heat.
4. Soup may be served at once, garnished with chopped scallion greens or olives; or may be thoroughly chilled and served as vichyssoise.
*If you've never worked with leeks before here are a few tips. You don't get much white part on each leek. I think I usually use 2 leeks for the recipe. The easiest way to clean them is to slice them first, then put them in a bowl with some water. They grow in sand, so the sand will fall to the bottom. Scoop the leeks out before dumping the water.