3 Ingredient Recipe: 3-Way Chicken, Leek and Sweet Potato Soup (no laughing at the title, now...)
Today I'd like to talk to you about economy. No, not THE economy, though the subjects are intrinsically linked. I mean food economy, and what this little experiment is teaching me about it. Being raised by a thrifty mom, I have always known to be aware of which grocer has the best price for bulk goods and how to clip my coupons. I have a preternatural sense for sniffing out deals - it's in my blood... but this, this is something different: something pulled down from your grandmother's kitchen shelf, wiped of it's dust, and hugged close as a family heirloom.
I am talking, maybe obviously, about using every part of your ingredients to the fullest: throwing nothing out until they've relinquished every remaining ounce of flavor and nourishment. And so was born the concept of 3-way soup. I couldn't think of a better name for it, so it remains a slightly suggestive title, maybe... but oh well.
This is by far the most complex of the 3 ingredient dishes I've experimented with for this challenge. I held my breath the whole time hoping not to create a epic disaster as it requires making your own stock out of the trimmings from your 3 ingredients, plus roasting and caramelizing and frying... but as many of the steps can be preformed simultaneously, it takes a little less time than one might imagine: about 2 hours total. I've included some of my tried and true tips for roasting chicken in this as well as a trick for caramelizing leeks without using sugar. The result is buttery and dense and has a round mouthfeel I've rarely had in any soup.
So be forewarned, this is not a throw together dish, however, the results are well worth it, I'm proud (and relieved) to say. Oh, and I'm forgetting the very best part: All in the cost of a meal for 4 people is, get this, a whopping $5.46. To me, that's worth a little effort right there... I'd suggest reading thru the directions below before starting so you have an idea of how this works. It might seem like a lot of steps, but much of this is intuitive and makes more sense once your understand the context of each line.
For a refresher on the rules of my 10 day, 3 ingredient challenge, check out the first post.
The 3 Ingredients...
- 4 chicken pieces w/bones and skin (combo of thighs and breasts suggested)
- 2 large leeks, split and washed thoroughly of grit
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled (reserve peels)
What to do with it...
For the roasted chicken...
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and coat your chicken with melted butter and cracked pepper (no salt)
- Add chicken to a heavy ovenproof skillet or roasting pan and place on bottom rack of oven
- Roast for 35 - 40 mins or until internal temp is 175 degrees (at this point see sweet potato steps)
- Remove and allow to cool then separate meat from bones and skin, saving everything
- Chop meat and add salt and pepper
- Pour pan drippings into gravy separator or use spoon to separate fat and juices - juices will be added to stock and fat will be used for the last step
- Trim bottoms and dark green tops and reserve for stock
- Thin slice your remaining white portions and divide out 1/4 cup for your last step, the rest will be caramelized
For the stock...
- Add your leek bottoms, sweet potato peelings, chicken bones, skin and pan juices (reserve fat) to a large stock pot and add about 10 whole peppercorns
- Pour enough cold water to cover plus one inch and bring to a boil
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 1 hour, skimming fat occasionally
- After cooking, allow stock to cool then strain thru mesh colander or cheesecloth into large heat-proof container and then return strained stock to the pot
For the sweet potatoes...
- While the chicken is roasting, cut all but 1/3 section of one potato (or about 1/4 cup) into a small dice - cut the remain 1/4 cup into julienne strips for the fried shoestring sweet potato topping at the end
- Heat a heavy-bottom, ovenproof pan over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter
- Add diced sweet potatoes and saute until golden, then remove from pan and set aside
- Keep pan on the heat and add 1 more tablespoon of butter for the caramelized leeks...
For the caramelized leeks...
- Add all but 1/4 cup white portions to the sweet potato pan (the brown bits from the potatoes will help caramelize leeks) and 2 pinches of salt
- Saute on medium until they just begin to turn brown, then reduce to lowest heat and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they are not burning
- At the end of 45 minutes leeks should be very soft and deep golden color
Compiling the soup...
- Bring your reserved stock to a gentle boil and then add sauteed sweet potatoes
- Cook until potatoes are just soft then add your caramelized leek mixture
- Reduce heat to a simmer and use an emulsion blender or fork to cream about half of the soup (be sure to leave it chunky)
- Add chicken and salt and pepper to taste
Making the fried leek and sweet potato shoestring topping...
- Spoon reserved chicken fat into a skillet (add some butter if there's not enough)
- Toss in julienne potato in and fry on medium-high heat until golden, remove to paper towel to drain
- Add your reserved 1/4 cup leeks to fat and fry until golden, remove to paper towel to drain
Serve soup in individual bowls topped with a little fried leek and sweet potato shoestrings!
4 down (and that was a doozy!) 6 to go!