When You Can't Travel, Bring a Taste of Travel to You!

As most of my wandering has pretty much come to a screeching halt ever since this wretched pandemic started, I decided that if I couldn't go to the UK again until WHO knows when, I would try to bring some of the UK to me. To that end I have tried baking numerous batches of scones and even attempted Cornish pasties, all while drinking more cups of tea than the Queen could crook her pinky at! 

On my latest international trip to the kitchen, I decided to try my hand at Leek & Tattie Soup, a dish that I originally had at Edinburgh's Old Bell Inn on my first visit to Scotland in 2015. Located just around the corner from the Sherwood Guest House - our accommodations during our time in Edinburgh - the Old Bell was my first real UK dining experience. Well ... that's if you don't count the late-night sandwiches, salads and can of Irn-Bru from the nearby Tesco we'd had the night before after climbing Arthur's Seat

A friendly, cozy, traditional Scottish pub located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Southside, the Old Bell Inn was the perfect introduction to pub food for me and where I got to try haggis with tatties and neeps - or potatoes and turnip as it were. For those of you pulling a face - stop it! I actually found haggis to be quite tasty but I'm definitely not ready to try making it at home so more haggis is going to have to wait until I can someday get back over to Scotland! 

Alas, my house doesn't have that classic pub look you find in the UK but the recipe that I found for Leek & Potato Soup on Recipe Tin Eats definitely had that classic soup taste that I remember so well from my travels. Turns out that it was surprisingly easy to make, too! 

One of the best parts of this recipe is that it doesn't require a lot of ingredients: leeks, potatoes (or tatties as they call 'em in Scotland!), chicken or vegetable broth, butter, heavy cream, garlic and salt & pepper are all you need to make a delicious taste of Scotland and France, too, though I couldn't vouch for that as my trip to France I'd had planned for last year got canceled because of Covid - ugh! I'm still mourning that one. 

Anyway, all canceled travel plans aside, leeks are somewhat on the expensive side (I paid $3.99 for two) but they are well worth the cost - at least in my own humble opinion! If you aren't familiar with leeks they are a member of the allium family which means they're related to garlic, chives, shallots and onions. They have a sweet, oniony flavor and smell absolutely amazing when they're cooking! 

An important step in making this soup - or anything else that you might use them in - is to make sure you clean the leeks before tossing them in the pot to sauté as they're often filled with dirt and sand. I found the easiest way to clean them was to split them in half, cut them into half moon shapes and then put them in a colander. I stirred them with my hand while running lots of cold water over them to get the dirt out then made sure to shake out the water before tossing them in a pot with melted butter and minced garlic where I slowly sautéed them until they became soft and sweet. 

After about 7 minutes, in went two pounds of peeled and cubed potatoes (I used regular old russet taters) and the low sodium chicken or vegetable stock. Turn the heat up, bring it to a simmer then cover it, lower the heat and let it go for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are good and tender. 

Pretty easy so far, right? The next step is to remove the pan from the heat and break out your handy-dandy immersion blender so that you can blitz the mixture just until it's smooth. If you don't have an immersion or stick blender, you can use a regular blender but use a potato masher first then only pulse the mixture in the blender until just smooth. 

Be careful not to over-puree your soup as you don't want to end up with a gluey mess which is what happens when the power from the immersion blender activates the starch in the potatoes. It would be way too easy to turn this into something you would probably want to use to hang wallpaper with rather than eat! 

I blended my soup until there were miniscule chunks of potato left (though they were obviously hard to see in this photo) and it was a nice smooth texture. I gotta tell ya, the smell at this point was really starting to make my mouth water! 

After sprinkling in some salt and pepper, you have the option of adding a cup of heavy cream to the soup to make it even tastier! The soup would be just fine without it but go ahead and spoil yourself and stir some in there for a really creamy soup! 

At this point, it was time to ladle some of the steamy hot soup into one of my favorite bowls so that I could finally enjoy the fruits (vegetables!) of my labor though if I'm being honest, this really wasn't all that labor intensive!  

The soup can be topped with fresh chives, crispy croutons, crumbled bacon or whatever else you have on hand that sounds good. I merely sprinkled a little bit of parsley on mine as I wasn't smart enough to have any of the other goodies I just mentioned on hand but it was still good! Had I been thinking I would have baked up a loaf of No Knead Bread using my go-to recipe from Merry Boosters to dip in my soup but alas, that's going to have to wait until my next batch! 

The soup was so good that soon it was so gone! Until the next bowl! 

In looking through various other recipes before making my batch of Leek & Tattie soup, I noticed that a good number of them called for quite a few other ingredients including fresh thyme, a bay leaf or two, carrots, etc. I'm sure that you could jazz this up anyway that you want but I really like the basic recipe that Nagi of Recipe Tin Eats has. It doesn't call for an overabundance of ingredients, it was easy, it was quick and in the end it was really, really good! 

So, even though I can't wander over to Scotland or France or really much of anywhere else until this pandemic comes to an end and we get the all-clear to travel again, I can certainly wander into my kitchen and whip up a batch of memories in the form of a flavorful bowl of soup! 


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