It’s a perfect recipe for this time of year… Farmers markets are flooded with fresh leeks and cool spring showers give you a nice excuse to make a simple soup for supper, lunch or for a snack.
But unlike the traditional recipe I once used–which called for fewer leeks, a pound of potatoes, 6 slices of bacon and 2 cups of heavy cream–this one uses twice the leeks, just a couple of carrots to thicken and sweeten the soup, only 1 slice of organic bacon (which is tossed out once it’s surrendered its flavor), and a little fat free half-and-half to add creaminess.
And though I could bore you for weeks with why leeks are so good for you and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, I’m betting that if you’re trying to lose weight, all you care about is that this new re-designed classic is still super filling, but has less than 100 calories a cup instead of almost 400..and almost none of the fat and cholesterol.
So keep this souper skinny dish in your inventory this spring…your summer shorts will thank you!
Instead of buying leeks in grocery stores (which charge by the pound and aren’t as fresh), look for them at your local farmers market where the extra large ones can cost as little as $1 a piece!
SKINNY AND CREAMY LEEK SOUP WITH APPLEWOOD SMOKED BACON
1 slice Organic Applewood Smoked Bacon (or Organic Peppered Bacon. Both are found at Whole Foods)
3-4 large leeks (After cutting off the root, use all of the white and light green parts, but just 3 inches of the dark greens, all sliced will yield about 12-14 cups.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t salt (it doesn’t seem like much, but your broth will also have sodium, so don’t overdo, you can always add more later.)
1/2 t pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 c white wine
8 c chicken broth (I prefer making my own out of Better Than Bouillon paste)
1/2 c fat free half and half
Once clean, simply slice them and toss them into the pot, right on top of the bacon as it cooks. Add the carrots, the garlic (no need to chop, just peel, crush and toss it in) and the spices and herbs.
Give it a stir for a couple of minutes and then deglaze your pan by pouring in 1/2 c of white wine and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.
Add in the broth. (8 cups to start, you can always thin the soup after pureeing if it’s too thick).
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Using your immersion blender, puree the soup well, adding a little more broth if you’d like it thinner.
Add the 1/2 c fat free half-and-half and the 1/4 c of cream sherry. (Please don’t try substituting grocery store “cooking sherry,” it doesn’t even compare to the real thing.)
Whirl again and taste for seasonings, adding more salt or pepper if desired.
You can eat it as is, or add a teaspoon or two of fat free yogurt or fat free sour cream.
Or you could add a few sunflower seeds or pepitas for crouton crunch but more nutrition!
And dress it up with any shower of fresh herbs…chives, parsley, tarragon or thyme are all good.
PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD
I call for dried herbs here for convenience. But if you can get a handful of fresh thyme and oregano, tie them into a bundle with kitchen twine and cook them with the soup instead. Just fish that bundle out when you remove the bacon strip. And experiment with other herbs. Sometimes I use fresh tarragon, or parsley…or add a jalapeno pepper if I want it more spicy…Really, it’s just food, play with it!
And, if you want to make the soup vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.. and instead of using actual bacon, try experimenting with flavored salts that mimic the taste of the cured pork.
I have several varieties in my spice drawer I get from my local salt guru...Applewood, Hickory, 7 Fire Smoke…and use them interchangeably depending on what I’m serving with it!
RE-USE, RE-PURPOSE, RE-CYCLE
Though this is a great starter for a low-cal meal like kale and chicken salad or salmon and greens, if you’re trying to lose weight, the greater purpose of this soup is as a snack. In the middle of the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, before you go to a party or drive afternoon carpool, heat up a cup or two.. it’s going to warm and fill your tummy so that you can control your hunger when the next meal arrives!