St. Patrick's Day Potato Soup with Pesto



4 to 6 servings




1 lg. clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp. pine nuts or
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup crème fraiche
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. buttermilk or
sour cream


1/4 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 md. leek (white part only), rinsed, chopped
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, trimmed, chopped
3 lg. baking potatoes, peeled, sliced
1-1/2 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. buttermilk
Salt and freshly ground pepper


TO MAKE THE CRÈME FRAICHE: gently warm the heavy cream. Remove it from the heat and combine it with the buttermilk or sour cream in a glass bowl. Mix well, cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Give the mixture a good stir once it has thickened, then cover and refrigerate. It will thicken even more once chilled.

TO MAKE THE PESTO: crush the garlic with the salt and place the mixture in a blender or food processor along with the basil, olive oil and nuts. Blend until the ingredients are finely pureed. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the basil mixture into a small mixing bowl. Fold in the grated cheese and blend well. Carefully stir in the crème fraiche. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR THE SOUP: melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme, leek, onion and celery and cook gently, reducing the heat after a minute or two, until the vegetables are quite tender, about 5 minutes. Do not allow them to brown at all. Add the potatoes, chicken broth and cream. If the potatoes aren’t totally submerged in the liquid, add a little water. Simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and tender. Puree the potato mixture using a hand held blender or a blender or food processor. Stir in the buttermilk. Wipe the saucepan clean and pour the pureed soup through a fine sieve back into the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup while it is still very hot into soup bowls and place a good dollop of pest in the centre of each serving. Run a toothpick through the pest to drag it out decoratively over the surface of the soup.

Great Potatoes..Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

Author's Comments

This luxurious, silky smooth potato soup showcases a brilliant emerald mound of pesto floating on the surface—perfect for St. Patrick’s Day dinners. Make the pesto ahead of time. If you can’t obtain enough fresh basil, look for a good quality jarred pesto for this recipe. Crème fraiche is often available at a good cheesemonger or in some specialty food shops. You can easily make your own, though. Serve this soup with thin slices of toasted baguettes.

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