2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 leek, white and tender greens, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
8-10 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (2 tablsepoons)
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 slices good quality sandwich bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablsepoon canola oil
1 cup milk (whole or skim)
Finely chopped fresh chervil, chives, tarragon, parsley or basil
Preheat the oven to 400. In a large saucepan, heat the peanut oil. Add the leek, onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, potato chunks, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low cover and summer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the bread cubes with the canola oil. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, or until golden.
Strain the soup into a clean saucepan. In a blender or food processor, puree the vegetables with a little of the liquid until smooth. Return the puree to the pan and stir in the milk. Bring the soup just to a simmer over moderately high heat. Season with salt and pepper and serve in shallow bowls, garnished with chopped fresh herbs and the croutons.
We thank Jacques Pepin for this recipe.