Yesterday the air was brisk and smelled like falling leaves and it put me in the mood to make a big pot of soup. I poked around in the fridge to see what I had on hand and settled on potato leek because it is so simple—just potatoes, leeks, butter, and water—and so very good.
I learned to make this soup when I first moved to Seattle and worked part time at an adorable corner market called the Icebox Grocery. The chef, Carol, made a big pot of soup each morning. Her potato leek was super popular with customers because it came topped with an unexpected garnish: olives. Carol combined chopped olives, garlic, parsley and a little olive oil and swirled a generous spoonful of this “caviar” into each serving of potato leek soup.
It’s a delicious addition—and absolutely easy to make.
Potato Leek Soup with Olive Caviar
This soup comes together quickly and makes a nice meal for weeknights, especially if you serve it with a simple green salad and a hunk of bread. Over the years I’ve added sundried tomatoes, capers, and red pepper flakes to the olive caviar, but it’s up to you if you want to add them in.
For the olive caviar:
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 sundried tomatoes, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Small pinch of hot pepper flakes
For the soup:
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, well scrubbed and thinly sliced
2 large leeks, thinly sliced, white parts only
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cups of water
1 tsp salt
Mix the olives, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, capers, parsley and pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Drizzle the oil over the olive mixture and set it aside.
Melt the butter over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the potatoes, leeks, and thyme and toss to coat. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the water and the salt and crank the heat up. Once the soup boils, lower the heat back down and let it simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes begin to fall apart, about 30 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your preferred consistency (or puree it in batches in a blender). Ladle the soup into shallow, warmed bowls and place a generous spoonful of the olive caviar in the middle of each bowl. Serve immediately.