Leek and Potato Stew

From Coraline, a novel by Neil Gaiman  

Coraline was disgusted. “Daddy,” she said, “you’ve made a recipe again.”
“It’s leek and potato stew with a tarragon garnish and melted Gruyère cheese,” he admitted.
-Coraline, Neil Gaiman

The next few months are going to be all about cocktails (to celebrate the release of The Geeky Chef Drinks) and delicious fall soups, like this one. Coraline (not Caroline) was not impressed by her dad's recipe, but I definitely was. Since it's almost Halloween, I thought I'd do a recipe from the repertoire of my favorite spooky author, Neil Gaiman. Coraline is about a young girl who's just been forced to move into a seemingly boring old house with boring old tenants. She isn't very happy with her new situation, especially not the lack of attention from her preoccupied parents. But, soon after moving in, she discovers a small door which leads to another version of the house, and this version isn't boring at all. In this version of the house, everything (and everyone) is fun and magical, even her Other parents.  But then, well... things take a dark turn. It's a delightfully creepy children's book, I highly recommend it, especially for this time of year. There is also a wonderful stop-motion adaption which very much lives up to the book. Sadly, the soup does not make an appearance in the film, but it can make an appearance in your belly tonight!

4tbs Butter
1 tbs All-Purpose Flour
3-4 Leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
1 Onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced 
5 Yellow Potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1qt Chicken Stock
1 Bay Leaf
2 sprigs Fresh Tarragon (plus more for garnishing)
5-6 sprigs Fresh Thyme
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper (plus other seasoning, if desired)
Shredded Gruyère Cheese (to taste) 
Chives, chopped (to taste, optional)

1) In a large soup pot or a dutch oven, melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.
2) Add in the leeks and onion, saute until softened.
3) Add in the garlic an saute for another couple minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
4) Remove aromatics from the pot and set aside.
5) Add in the remaining butter and heat until it melts and begins to bubble.
6) Sprinkle in the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir until it makes a paste. Careful not to burn it.
7) Add the aromatics back in, along with the potatoes, the chicken broth and herbs. Give it a stir.
8) Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 15-25 minutes, or until potatoes are very soft and can easily be pierced by a fork.
9) Fish out the herbs, then blend the soup using a handheld blender. You can also use a regular blender, but the blending may need to be done in batches, then added back into the pot.
10) Once the soup is completely pureed, slowly stir in the cream.
11) Taste the soup. It's going to be a bit bland so add in salt and pepper, or any other seasoning or herbs that take your fancy. 
12) Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish first with the shredded Gruyère cheese, then sprinkle on the chives (if using) and lastly, add a sprig of fresh tarragon for garnish.

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