There are many hearty Pennsylvania Dutch potato soups, often made with milk, onion, pork, and/or celery. This creamy vegan potato and leek soup recipe is a little different; it’s definitely a re-interpretation instead of a re-creation. The potato soups I’m used to are made with white onions and are seasoned very simply, with just pepper or maybe some parsley. Purists, please don’t hate me–I’ve made a jazzed up fusion recipe here! I borrowed from the French, specifically the Cordon Bleu cookbook. I sweat the vegetables in vegan butter in a covered pot under parchment paper, to bring out more flavor from them. I also throw a beautiful bouquet garni in with the broth for extra seasoning. The bouquet garni is wrapped in leek leaves, and thus I’ve replaced the white onions with leek. Most Pennsylvania Dutch recipes would either leave the diced potatoes intact, or use a potato masher just a bit. I prefer this soup pretty smooth, so I’ve added optional instructions for how to do that.
I like to cook some vegan bacon in oil, and then reuse the oil and drippings to add flavor to this soup. However, vegan bacon can be hard to find in stores, and I haven’t been impressed with what I’ve tried. The Olives for Dinner blog has a phenomenal recipe for vegan bacon using shiitake mushrooms. I tried it using baby Portobellos instead. As suggested by the author to commenters who asked about this substitution, I doubled the marinade and checked them often while they baked to make sure they wouldn’t burn–I did have to take them out 10 minutes early. I was blown away! They had the exact taste, smell, and texture of bacon. The recipe also appears to be forgiving; I didn’t have the sesame oil that was called for, so I just added some extra olive oil to replace it. The author does a great job explaining other omissions and substitutions that will work.
- 1 leek
- 3 sprigs Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stalk of celery about 4 inches long, with leaves
- oil and 4 strips vegan bacon, or the ingredients for the Olives for Dinner shiitake bacon recipe
- 2 and 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
- 4 cups vegetable stock or broth
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I like Tofutti Better than Sour Cream)
- 1 and 1/2 cups plain soy milk
- peppercorns and/or crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
You’ll also need parchment paper, an 8 inch strip of cheesecloth or cooking twine/string, and a stock or soup pot that holds at least 6 quarts. If you like the potatoes blended in with your soup, you’ll need a blender or masher.
- Fold a square of parchment paper in half, then fold in half once more. Hold the paper so it extends from the center of the stock pot to the edge of the stock pot. Cut the paper along the inner edge of the stock pot. Unfold, and you will have a circular paper that fits your stock pot. Set aside.
- Remove the ragged outer leaves from the leek. Cut a 4-inch section from two of these leaves. Place the parsley, bay leaf, and celery stalk on top of one of the sections. Place the other leek section on top. Tie with the string or strip of cheesecloth. This is your bouquet garni (see photo). Set it aside. Throw away the rest of the leek’s ragged outer leaves.
- Cut 1/4 inch from the root end of the leek. Cut away the top to leave about 2 inches of light green.
- Slice and rinse the leek well.
- If you’re using prepackaged vegan bacon, cook the 4 strips in oil in the stock pot, according to package instructions. Remove the vegan bacon strips but leave the oil and drippings in the stock pot. Dice the vegan bacon strips and set them aside.
- If you’re using the Olives for Dinner shiitake bacon recipe, follow all the instructions, except use parchment paper instead of a silpat to line your baking sheet when you roast the mushrooms in the oven. Also, save the leftover marinade. When you’re done, take the mushrooms off the parchment paper. Use a spatula to scrape the drippings off the parchment paper and into the stock pot. Scrape the leftover marinade into the stock pot as well. Dice the shiitake bacon and set aside.
- Melt the vegan butter in the stock pot.
- Add the potatoes and sliced leek to the stock pot, and toss with the vegan butter, oil, and drippings.
- Cover the potatoes and leek with the parchment paper round. Put the lid on the stockpot and let them cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until softened. This is called “sweating.”
- Add the broth or stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the bouquet garni and simmer for 20 minutes, until potatoes are very soft.
- Remove the stock pot from the heat.
- Remove the bouquet garni from the stock pot. Throw the bouquet garni away.
- If you’d like a smoother soup, puree portions of the soup in a blender, or use a hand blender, until most of the soup is smooth. You could also mash the potatoes with a potato masher.
- Stir in the soy milk and sour cream, and serve immediately.
- Garnish with the diced vegan bacon, peppercorns, and/or crushed red pepper for extra zing.