Ren's Potato Leek Mushroom Soup
As Good as Restaurant Soup!
I love making soups and chili when the weather turns colder. They seem to warm the soul when the bones are chilled! The other day we went to The Olive Garden Restaurant and had the yummiest potato porcini mushroom soup (it's seasonal right now so go try some if you get the chance). Of course, they weren't about to give out a new recipe, at least not yet, so I had to come up with my own. Dare I say, I came pretty close considering I didn't have any porcini mushrooms handy.
This recipe can be made completely vegetarian or not. I'm not a vegetarian, but I dated a guy in high school whose family was, and they taught me a ton of great dishes. My son has also never been a big meat eater so we shy away from heavy meat dishes aside from skinless chicken. For that matter, I don't eat much meat either (aside from the chicken and fish). Sadly, we have a much harder time cutting out cheese and dairy but we still eat a lot of vegetables. How many kids do you know who say their favorite vegetable is broccoli? Because of this, I love to experiment with cooking and coming up with my own recipes and tweaking those of others. I hope you'll try this one because I think it turned out just as good as the restaurant version! Let me know what you think if you make it!
All photos © 2013 Ren During
How to Become a Good Cook!
I've never had any formal training in cooking, unless you want to count watching Julia Child on PBS as a kid. I began cooking around the age of 8-years-old. I don't mean just heating up soup from a can or using the new fancy microwave that was all the rage then, I mean cooking. I would search the Joy of Cooking cookbook my mother owned, but only used for Thanksgiving stuffing, write out a grocery list and she'd buy what I needed.
Basic cooking isn't really so difficult, it requires the desire to want to cook and one key ingredient: LOVE. I love to cook, that's all it is. It brings me joy, relaxation and in the end I usually have something yummy to eat!
Creating your own recipes or mimicking one takes more than basics, however. I scour the Internet for recipes and then alter them to suit our tastes. This also gives me an idea of what herbs and spices go together. I use my nose a lot with spices because it's better than my memory of what will compliment what. Cooking shows have become all the rage so it's easy to get tips on techniques used in cooking. Other than a few skills, it just takes practice.
So do you want to make some soup?
Well let's get started!
To keep it vegetarian, please substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and leave out the cream shown in the picture. You may opt to substitute soy milk if you so desire.
- 3 large russet potatoes - halved and sliced
- 3 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes - halved and sliced
- 2 - 3 large leeks, thinly sliced
- 2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced (or more if desired)
- 3 - 6 mushrooms, white, porcini or baby portabello)
- 3 - 5 TBSP olive oil or butter
- 32 - 46oz vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 tsp thyme, (or more) to taste
- to taste basil, to taste
- to taste marjoram, to taste
- to taste salt & pepper, to taste
- small amount flour or cornstarch, if needed to thicken soup
- 1 cup heavy cream, - soy or reg milk can be subsitituted
- Clean potatoes because you'll be keeping the skins on. I rubbed mine with the back of a fork to get off any heavy dirt. Trim off any bad spots. Then cut the potatoes in half lengthwise before slicing them into 1/4 inch slices. Don't worry if they are not evenly as you will want some to cook faster and break up to make the broth thicker. I even cut some of the slices in half to help the process.
- Rinse potatoes and place into a large stock pot. Cover with vegetable stock. You may add a bit more water if needed but you only want just cover the potatoes. Cover and cook over medium heat. As they cook you will be able to stir them and begin breaking them up into smaller pieces. (at least 20-30 min) This will start to thicken the soup.
- Dice up the celery into small pieces and add to the boiling potatoes.
- Cut the green leafy part and rough root end from the leeks, before cutting them lengthwise and rinsing. Next slice them as thinly as possible.
- Clean the mushrooms (removing the stems if desired) and thinly slice. I find it easier to slice them with the caps down.
- Prepare a sauté pan with melted butter or olive oil (not both) and sauté the leeks and garlic until soft and clear, then add in the mushrooms and the desired amount of thyme (I used about a teaspoon of dried thyme since I didn't have any fresh on hand) sauté until the mushrooms are soft. Add this to the pot with the potatoes, mixing it together with the potatoes and continuing to break up more chunks to thicken the soup.
- Next, taste the soup. Add in the desired amount of salt, pepper, marjoram, basil or other seasonings you may desire.
- If the soup is not thick enough you may do a couple of things to thicken it. You can break up more potatoes until it's to your likeness. You may make a mixture of water and flour or cornstarch and slowly add it to the soup until it thickens. You may also add in cream or milk (possibly soy milk though I haven't tried that) to thicken it as well. I find the thickness of soup is a very personal thing. Some people like a thinner soup and some people like more of a stew. You decide what works best for you.