(For a healthy version, substitute the cream cheese with reduced fat sour cream. It still tastes really good and is less calories and fat.)
ARTICHOKE POTATO LEEK SOUP
(Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 16 oz. can artichoke hearts drained
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. Cream Cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches*, puree the soup. Add the 1/4 cup cream cheese and blend again to combine.
3. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Top with chives to garnish (optional).
* When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.