Baked Potato and Leek Soup with Roast Chicken Cigarillos
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a starter, light lunch or supper
I love the simplicity of this humble potato and leek soup. The inspiration for this recipe came from standing in front of the fridge one evening with bits of leftover cooked foods staring me in the face. The challenge was to make a tasty supper with leftovers, but it’s also a delicious recipe if you cook everything from scratch.
The secret of success for a tasty potato and leek soup is when you add the seasoning. I’m a bit pedantic about the acceptable levels of seasoning when cooking, so I would recommend that some seasoning is added at the start of the cooking process so that the soup can develop flavour. The mistake that most cooks make is not to season their food at all at the beginning or during the cooking process, but then to add a heap of ‘raw’ salt at the end – at this stage, you need to add so much salt to inject flavour that you end up using too much.
Pepper could perhaps be seen as an enemy of potato and leek soup – you will be surprised how obvious the taste of pepper is with potatoes. I learnt a very valuable lesson once, many moons ago, when I was a commis chef. We used ready-milled pepper at that particular restaurant and I added too much to my potato and leek soup. It tasted like a pot of pepper, potato and leek soup! I was gutted and the chef, understandably, was not happy at all, so I had to start all over again. Lesson learnt for me, so take it easy on the pepper as you can always add extra but you cannot take it away. The roasted chicken cigarillos add a lovely extra touch and transform a humble dish into a filling and interesting one.
Ingredients & Method
For the baked potato and leek soup
- 3 large baking potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 20g unsalted butter
- 375g leeks, washed and cut into 1cm slices
- 1 litre good quality vegetable or white chicken stock
- 100ml double cream
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the roast chicken cigarillos
- 60g unsalted butter
- 100g leeks, washed and finely sliced
- 100g cold roast chicken leg meat, flaked
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
- 4 sheets of chilled fresh or frozen (defrosted) filo pastry (each sheet about 40 x 30cm)
Make the soup. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Wash the potatoes, prick them all over with a fork, then rub them all over with the olive oil. Place the potatoes on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 1–11/2 hours or until cooked and tender, turning once. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then cut the baked potatoes in half and use a spoon to scoop out the potato flesh from the skins. Set the potato flesh aside.
Rip the potato skins into pieces, return them to the same baking tray, then turn the oven off, place the baking tray in the hot oven and shut the door. Leave the potato skins in the oven as it cools down and then remove them from the oven after about 20 minutes – by which time the pieces of skin will have become roasted and crisp and will make a lovely garnish. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the leeks, with salt and pepper added, over a medium heat for 6–7 minutes or until the leeks start to take on a little colour. Add the baked potato flesh and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the soup is thickened and the leeks are tender. Stir in the cream, then remove from the heat.
Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. Return to the pan (if you like, you can pass the soup through a fine sieve at this stage, but it’s not necessary) and reheat gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Keep the soup hot until you are ready to serve.
In the meantime, make the roast chicken cigarillos. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Melt 20g of the butter in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the leeks, with salt and pepper added, over a medium heat for 6–7 minutes or until softened. Remove from the heat and place the leeks in a bowl, then add the flaked chicken meat and chives and mix well.
Cut the filo sheets in half lengthways to make 8 strips of filo and melt the remaining butter. Lightly brush each strip of filo with melted butter and divide the chicken mixture evenly between each one. Roll up each one tightly from a short end to make 8 cigarillos. Place the cigarillos on the prepared baking tray, brush each cigarillo with melted butter and then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
Serve the hot soup in bowls with the crispy pieces of potato skins and the roast chicken cigarillos served alongside.