Potato-Leek Soup with Charred Onion and Cauliflower

This has to be the healthiest version of Potato-Leek Soup, but also the best. It's very simple in execution which produces a full, pure taste. A russet potato does double-duty as main ingredient and thickener, instead of cream. The charred onion and cauliflower is a healthier, more flavorful stand-in for croutons that's as great on this soup as it is on pizza. Serves 4.

Charred Onion and Cauliflower:

  • ¼ red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Potato-Leek Soup:

  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 medium leeks
  • 1 pound baby creamer potatoes
  • 1 russet potato
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
  • 1 large smoked pork neck bone or ham hock
  • 1 teaspoon dill seeds (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves or a small stalk rosemary
  • 32 fluid ounces (4 cups) chicken stock
  • ¼ bunch parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Make the Charred Onion and Cauliflower:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F. Thinly slice the onion. Slice the garlic a little thicker. Peel, core, then cut the cauliflower into small florets.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the onion, garlic, oil, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until everything is charred and crispy but not totally burnt.

Make the Potato-Leek Soup:

  1. Rinse, then small dice the celery. Halve, then thinly slice the leek. Wash the cut leeks very well then dry. Cut the baby potatoes into halves, quarters, or sixths as needed. Peel then small dice the russet potato. Finely chop the parsley leaves, then finely mince the stems down to the bottom couple of inches.
  2. In a pot, heat the bacon fat or olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, leek, and neck bone or ham hock. Cook, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. If using, add the dill seeds and cook a minute more.
  4. Add the bay leaves or rosemary, all of the potatoes, and the stock. Increase heat to medium-high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low to simmer.
  5. Simmer uncovered 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just done.
  6. Fish out the herbs and pork.
  7. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, carefully blend anywhere from a quarter to half of the soup to thicken it. Stir in the parsley leaves and stems, salt, and pepper, and adjust seasoning as needed.
  8. Serve piping hot garnished with the charred cauliflower and some parsley leaves.