I have quite a few Christmas recipes up my sleeve, but lets take a break from the chocolate, the alcohol and the spice, and think about a comfortable Christmas lunch for the days before and after the crazy indulgent one. I am thinking soup, and who doesn’t love soup? Nourishing and soothing, soup is what I reach for when I am ill, or when I need comfort. Oh, and toasted sandwiches too.

I love an elegant simple soup but I like to spike these with some flavour bombs and textural contrast. Bacon and kale sit on top of this creamy dense soup and provide perfect flavour pops. I crisp the kale a little in the bacon fat too. I promise that even the most grey, most grim days will be redeemed with this.

Before I crack on with the recipe, a few things! I was thinking of launching a reader recipe request feature, what do you think? Are there any dishes that you have always been keen to know but didn’t know where to start? Let me know! I am also tweaking the site at the moment, adding new features and changing the design. The current design is temporary while I work on the site features. The changes are long overdue but I am doing it myself, so it is taking a little time. Your feedback here would be immensely valuable if you could take the time.

Finally, I am speaking at the Guardian in January about professional blogging. Some of you will remember that I taught a 2 day Food Blogging Masterclass there last year. This time it is about the next level, how to start make a living from your site, and how to be a pro blogger. It is a full day seminar, also speaking are Patrick Dalton, creator of the widely acclaimed blog and book series Shit London and Sonya Barber, editor of the Time Out London blog. You can read more details on the Guardian, and book tickets there too.

Back to the recipe — enjoy!

Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup with Bacon and Kale

Makes enough for 6 bowls

Ingredients

1.5kg potatoes, peeled and coarsely diced (keep in water until you are ready to use them to prevent discolouring)
4 leeks, washed and finely sliced
1.8l good chicken stock (homemade is best if you have the time, I make bit batches and freeze some every time)
1 bay leaf (fresh is best)
200ml single cream (heavy cream)
300g good bacon, cut into lardons. I like them chunky. (50g per bowl if you are making and intending to have leftovers)
100g kale, torn from the stem
50g butter
1 tbsp flavourless oil like groundnut or sunflower oil
sea salt

Method

Melt the butter and oil over a low to medium heat and add the leeks. Sweat gently for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes, stock and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Summer until the potatoes are soft.
Remove the bay leaf, add the cream and blend the soup. Season to taste, but remember that the bacon will be salty, so under salt a little.
Sauté the bacon in its own fat. When cooked through add the kale and cook until it wilts, and starts to crisp in the rendered bacon fat.
Serve the soup hot, with the bacon and kale on top.
Enjoy!

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Niamh

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