I considered calling this Samwise’s Tater and Mushroom soup but once I added the cream I figured it would be more of a Shire soup than an on-the-road soup. For those less enlightened nerdy than I, here’s the deal on Farmer Maggot. Without further ado, the recipe.
You will need:
10-12 new potatoes (I like yukon gold, but the only must is that they are new [baby] taters)
8-12 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used white, but you could try this with portobellos – if you do let me know how it goes!)
1 lb leeks, topped and trimmed
3 Tbsp dried shallots / 3 fresh minced shallots / 1 small onion (I used first option, others are guesses to approximate)
4 cloves crushed garlic
4 c chicken stock (pref organic, low-sodium; if not low sodium reduce salt added accordingly)
4 c water
1 c half-and-half (i like organic, ultra-pasteurized), OR 1/2 c heavy cream (note I haven’t tried the heavy cream so this is a guess!)
fresh dill (approx half of a bunch)
fresh thyme (if you have it – if not the soup is just fine), to taste
fresh ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste
*Please note that you can always increase the proportions of all these to make more soup.
Your very first task is to clean and slice the leeks – don’t cut corners here, because the sandy dirt the leeks were living in until just lately needs to be 100% absent from your soup. Trim off the dark green tops and lop off just the very bottom (the rooty part – and if you’d like more info here’s a video). After thoroughly cleaning, slice into quarter-inch rounds. You will probably need to rinse these rounds again in a colander to remove all the dirt. Once that’s complete, you can begin with the olive oil, shallots/onions, a generous amount of dill, garlic, and some salt and pepper in your stockpot at medium heat. Throughout the rest of the stages assume that you will be stirring occasionally. Let that sauté while you slice the potatoes – since they’re little I like to cut in half, and then into quarter-inch slices. After five minutes or so – or when the stuff in the pot starts to become fragrant – add the leeks. Continue the sauté for about another five minutes, then add the potatoes. Again, let them go 5ish minutes. Before the potatoes start to brown at all, add the chicken stock and the water, along with some more dill, salt and pepper, and fresh thyme if available (just the leaves! no woody stems). Also be mindful to keep the bigger dill stems out of the soup. At this point, set out a measuring cup with one cup half-and-half (generally I prefer cream but didn’t have any handy – if you do use heavy cream, start with a half-cup and only add more if needed), just on the counter, so that there won’t be as huge a difference in temperatures when you add it to the hot liquid later.
Here’s the part where you can do something else for a bit while you let the soup in the stockpot come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. (The other good news about this soup is that once you’ve added the potatoes, you have plenty of time to get your kitchen cleaned up before the pot even comes to a boil.) Lastly, add the half-and-half (or cream), stirring as you pour it in. I like to add some more fresh dill at this point also. Keep on a very low simmer for 5-10 minutes to finish.
To be very Hobbit-y, serve with hot crusty bread, cheese (a white cheddar would be nice, Dubliner for example) and a flagon of a Belgian-style saison (farm) ale, remembering that to be truly Hobbit-like you will also need to sing after supper.
A final note – the potatoes and mushrooms mean this soup is not going to survive freezing well, so plan to eat it all up within a few days of preparation. I don’t think that will be a problem.