Leek and potato soup with homemade rosemary focaccia bread

I found myself making leek and potato soup a few nights ago.  It wasn’t a pre-conceived mission or anything. I just happened to have all the correct ingredients and I’d completely forgotten how fulfilling and tasty a well made leek and potato soup can be. The focaccia bread inspiration comes from a good friend, whom whilst in between living his hedonistic lifestyle in Shoreditch as a bass player (in a great band) he always takes the time out on a Sunday to bake bread.

Ingredients

  • 4 large leeks (£1.09)
  • 2 medium potatoes (41p)
  • 1 medium onion (11p)
  • 25g of fresh rosemary (79p)
  • 1.5kg bag of Tesco strong white bread flour (£1.29) – we’re using 450g so loads left
  • 1 pack of Tesco fast action dried yeast (67p)

The cupboard staples…

Olive oil, black pepper, salt, butter, milk (1/2 a pint), garlic (2 cloves) and 2 chicken stock cubes.

Total cost

If you already have the cupboard staples, then according to mysupermarket.co.uk, this trolley was cheapest at Tesco where it came to £4.36 - that's £1.09 per head!

Instructions

  • Let’s start with the focaccia bread. You’ll need to set aside about 2 hours to make. Grab a large bowl and combine 450 grams of flour, 2 teaspoons of yeast and 2 teaspoons of salt together. Then add 400ml of tepid water and use your hands to knead into dough. If it feels a little too sticky (i.e. difficult to work with and clumping in your hands too much), just add a little flour.
  • Once you’ve worked into a dough in the bowl turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Keep adding a little flour to avoid sticking and to help into a smooth consistency. Now place the dough back in the floured bowl (this avoids sticking) and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel. Airing cupboards are perfect for letting the dough rise.
  • Whilst the dough is rising, you can make the soup. Start by prepping the vegetables; so finely chop the leeks, onion, 2 cloves of garlic and cube the potatoes.
  • Take a good large thick bottomed pan and add a large glug of olive oil along with a tablespoon of butter. Add the leeks and onion and soften down for around 10 minutes on a low heat. Now add the potatoes and garlic, season well with salt and black pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes. Then add 2 pints of chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Finally add ½ a pint of milk and simmer for a further 2 minutes.
  • Take the soup off the heat, let it cool down a little and whizz with a hand held blender to a smooth consistency. Set to one side ready to heat up once the focaccia is cooked.
  • Back to the focaccia. Take the dough from the bowl and place in an oiled rectangle baking tray (at least 2 inches in depth), making sure you cover all the surface of the tray with an even thickness. Place back in a warm place to rise for a further 30 minutes (covered with a damp tea towel).
  • After 30 minutes the dough will have risen nicely. Preheat the oven to 200C (425F or gas mark 6).
  • Before putting in the oven, poke holes with your finger all over the bread and add the roughly chopped rosemary, a good pinch of salt (rock salt is better if you have) and drizzle all over with olive oil.
  • Place in the oven for 30 minutes (until golden brown on top). Turn out on to a cooling rack for a few minutes and then slice into thick chunks and serve with the soup (the focaccia should be eaten whilst still warm ideally). A classic. Happy eating!

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