I call this soup “new world” because it’s a variation on the classic French leek and potato soup, using sweet potatoes and peppers, two ingredients that Christopher Columbus introduced to Europe during his explorations of the Americas. Serve small quantities as a prelude to a celebratory meal, or add a tossed green salad for a light supper.
New World Leek and Pepper Soup
- Medium to large (31⁄2 to 5 quart) slow cooker
- Blender or food processor
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter 30 mL
- 4 large leeks, white part with just a bit of green, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin 15 mL
- 1⁄2 tsp sea salt 2 mL
- 1⁄2 tsp cracked black peppercorns 2 mL
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided 1.5 L
- 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs/1 kg), peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 1 long red chile pepper, minced, optional
- Sea salt, optional
- Roasted red pepper strips, optional
- Finely snipped chives
- 1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 cups (500 mL) of the stock and stir well. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
- 2. Add remaining 4 cups (1 L) of stock and sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until potatoes are tender. Add green peppers and chile pepper, if using. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes, until peppers are tender. Season to taste with salt, if using.
- 3. Purée using an immersion blender. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, do this in a blender or food processor, in batches.) To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with roasted red pepper strips, if using, and chives.
- If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (approx. 2 quart) slow cooker.
- To clean leeks: Fill a sink full of lukewarm water. Split the leeks in half lengthwise and submerge them in the water, swishing them around to remove all traces of dirt. Transfer to a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
- For the best flavor, toast cumin seeds and grind them yourself. To toast cumin seeds: Place in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind finely.
- This soup is tastiest when made with sweet potatoes, but if you prefer, substitute an equal quantity of acorn squash.
- Make Ahead
- Complete Step 1. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, complete the recipe.
Judith Finlayson https://judithfinlayson.com/