I’m normally not keen on white pepper. But I use penja white pepper, which is nice and spicy, not musty like other white pepper and works really well with soups made with tubers and root vegetables. It’s also somewhat expensive and if you don’t have it, the red pepper provides a hint of after-heat. Black pepper can be used, but is better ground over the top of each bowl.
Some might inquire whether they could use chicken or vegetable stock, which you certainly could. But I’m fine with just using water. If you’ve not used leeks before, see how to prepare leeks.
- 2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 4 leeks, washed and sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme; optional
- 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
- 6 cups (1.5l) water
- 1 1/4-pounds (600 g) potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.
Add the slices leeks and season with salt. Cook the leeks over moderate heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted.
Add the thyme, if using, and chile powder, and stir for about 30 seconds, cooking them with the leeks to release their flavor flavors.
Pour in the water, and add the potatoes and bay leaf.
Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife. Depending on which potatoes you used, it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
Pluck out the bay leaves and puree the soup with the white pepper, seasoning with more salt if necessary. I use an immersion (stick) blender, but if you use a standard blender, be sure not to fill it more than half-full and secure the lid, and cover it with a tea towel when blending, to avoid hot soup or steam for causing problems. Don’t use a food processor as that will make the potato purée gummy.
If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water, until it’s the desired consistency.