While it’s still soup weather… Well, it’s soup weather somewhere, I suppose. Here in the Midwest, it’s been wonderfully weird. A nearby town set a record a few days ago when the temperature hit seventy-eight degrees! It’s February. That’s weird. That’s wonderful! So many areas of the country received winter’s full blast while we were just – chilly. It has to get mighty warm for us to give up on nourishing, yummy soups at our house, though.
This soup was born of necessity – and that’s another post for another day. Having taken yet another serious step forward in improving my food choices, I’d adapted many of my old recipes into grain-free, sugar-free versions. One day, oozing with inspiration and having one of those “if I were the perfect soup, what would I be like?” mind excursions, I hatched a plan. It must have been one of my super-duper, genius, over-the-top, brainy days, because after a trip to the store and a little time at the stove, I rolled my eyes and patted myself on the back. All my past kitchen flops had been compensated for and I knew I had a winner.
I needed a winner. I had a reputation to uphold. Each year our church sponsors the Souper Bowl of Sharing. Soups are judged and the top-rated soups receive the coveted “Golden Ladles”. I’d received three consecutive Golden Ladles, so why not go for a fourth? Besides, all proceeds go to the area food bank. They deserve a great soup, right?
My own high praise of this soup comes to you from a life-long sweet-tater-hater. I’ve only embraced the rock-hard, ugly roots in the last few years. I think it happened in a daring restaurant experience when I lost my head, blurting out, “I’ll have some of those sweet potato fries.” I’ve been experimenting with them ever since.
I filled my slow cooker with a triple batch of this soup and, yes, I took home another golden ladle!
So many people have asked me for this recipe. I think you’ll love it. If you can’t have dairy, I weep for you. I don’t know how you’d alter this and come up with anything close if you try to avoid the cream.
A few notes before we start –
1. If you haven’t worked with leeks, they look like giant green onions. However, their oniony taste is delightfully delicate! They pick up a lot of sand and grit while growing, though, which is why the recipe says to halve lengthwise. This will enable you to fan the layers apart and rinse all the dirt out. Then, just pull all the layers back together, lay flat side down and slice into thin ribbons. Use all the white part and a good portion of the green, but not any parts that look extra tough. The green parts will soften well during cooking.
2. I place the chicken in my slow cooker or a large skillet, season it with salt & pepper, and cook on LOW for a while ahead of making the soup. (Your chicken will be tough if cooked too fast.) When it’s thoroughly cooked, I place it on a cutting board and use one of the handy-dandy Pampered Chef dealy-bobs featured in the photo below.. It shreds it to perfection in no time! I get my Pampered Chef items here. If you don’t have one, just slice across the grain, then pull apart.
3. Do not confuse sweet potatoes with white potatoes when it comes to cooking time. Cubed sweet potatoes cook FAST! The best way I’ve found is to take a large knife and slice off a 1/2″ slab. Then, turn the sweet potato over onto the flat surface you’ve created and slice the whole thing into more 1/2″ slabs. Stack a few together, cut into 1/2″ strips (like French fries) and then into cubes. Sweet potatoes are solid and difficult to cut when raw, but don’t let them fool you. Once cubed and put into the boiling broth, I’d advise giving them the taste test after about five minutes.
4. I invented “Faux-broth” as a substitute for chicken broth one day when none of the stores nearby had chicken broth without sugar in it. Again, I let my mind wander. (It’s not always dangerous.) I threw together a series of things that I would have used if I were seasoning, for instance, a chicken for roasting. I feel a little silly, I must say, for sharing a recipe for water with herbs in it, but I’ve used it over and over again. Anyhow, if you’re out of broth, this “flavored water” will get you by in a pinch. It would also be helpful in lowering the calories in the soup. The first time you make this soup, I’d advise using real chicken broth. Then, you’ll know how it’s meant to taste. (That’s what I used for the soup contest – and I won – I’m just sayin’.)
OK – Let’s make AWESOME, prize-winning soup! And, don’t get your under-drawers in a bunch over the butter and heavy cream. Fat doesn’t make you fat – carbs do. Sugar does. This soup is satisfying. Besides, as I often tell Smuffy – nobody’s forcing you to eat four bowls.
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Below the recipe, you’ll find a link to a free printable which includes both the soup and the faux broth.
Creamy Leek Soup with Chicken & Sweet Potato
1 large leek, halved lengthwise & cleaned well, then sliced into 1/8″ ribbons
1/4 cup butter
1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, seasoned, cooked & shredded.
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 ” cubes
2 cups chicken broth (with NO sugar)
2 cups heavy cream
In a medium skillet, cook & stir leeks in butter until very soft over medium heat.
Meanwhile, bring broth (or faux broth) to a boil. Add cubed sweet potatoes. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till just tender (5-10 minutes). Add leeks (with butter), cooked chicken and heavy cream to the pot. Heat thoroughly.
Great with fresh, homemade biscuits & a salad! Makes 7-8 cups.
Enjoy the awesomeness!
A word of caution about food safety: If the grateful recipients of your awesome soup present you with a Golden Ladle, examine it carefully. You might want to keep it “just for show”. I’m highly suspicious of a spray paint job!
Don’t forget your two-for-one free printable! If you’d like for your faux-broth to be smooth (minus the visible bits of herb), you can always put your dry herbs in a small processor and spin until powdery.
More “Golden Ladlel Winners” coming up, so be sure to SUBSCRIBE!