Fresh Potato Parsley soup with white beans and Basil

photo courtesy of: Kitchen Gardeners International

2 tbsp butter
2 leeks, cleaned well and chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped finely with leafy tops
1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best)
5-6 medium white potatoes, peeled (if skins are thin, you can leave the skins on for more fiber and a rustic texture) and cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 can white navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bunch or several stalks of fresh parsley
2-3 stems of fresh basil (or use a tsp of prepared pesto)
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper and 1/2 cup cream or half and half (optional)
sour cream and chives to garnish

Remove parsley and basil leaves from stems, set leaves aside and tie stems together with kitchen string. Add butter to a Dutch oven and melt over medium heat. Add leeks and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add bundle of herb stems, potatoes and chicken stock to Dutch oven and cook on medium heat until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes boiling time.

Remove herb stem bundle. Chop parsley and basil leaves finely and add to simmering soup along with drained cannellini beans, lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer soup until beans are warmed through, about 6-10 minutes. Soup can be pureed at this stage for a smoother texture. Add in batches to a blender or use an immersion blender. Add 1/2 cup cream or half and half for a creamier, richer soup.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh snipped chives. This recipe would be great with a bruschetta of tomatoes, basil and garlic.