Leek, Potato and Artichoke Soup
This is one of the few soup recipes that I have tried and actually enjoy enough to make over and over again. It has a distinct artichoke flavour with a thick, creamy texture. It tastes great with or without the basil pesto, but personally I won't eat it without it. The pesto melds perfectly with the flavours of the soup and leaves a fresh taste in your mouth.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks (about two cups), white parts chopped
9 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
10 oz* jar water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
2 medium (about 3/4 cup) boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks to make blending them easier
6 fresh thyme sprigs OR 2 tsp dried thyme
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons basil pesto (optional)
*Note: Original recipe calls for 2 9.9oz of jarred artichoke hearts, but I only use a 10 oz. jar. You can also use a 10oz. package of frozen artichoke hearts.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the leeks and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until the leeks are softened, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the vegetable broth, water, artichokes, potatoes and thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove lid to season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
If using fresh thyme, remove the thyme sprigs and strip the leaves off the thyme stems into the soup. Transfer the soup mixture to the blender in batches, and blend until smooth. You may want to wait for the soup to cool down a bit so the steam doesn't blow the lid off the blender (I learned the hard way). Once the soup has been completely blended, return it to the pot and add the lemon juice. Stir, and add more salt or pepper if desired.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of pesto.