Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal
Leek and Potato Soup on a Cold Night
By Bruce Neyers
Thursday 16th March, 2023
In the 40+ years that I’ve lived in the Napa Valley I’ve only seen snow here a handful of times. Since our last spell of cold weather began, though, I’ve seen it daily, as the hills in every direction seem covered with a beautiful, white blanket. The vines are dormant now, so the cold weather isn’t a problem – unless it gets cold enough to freeze the water in the vines. There’s a benefit too, as the cold eliminates some of the bad microbes in the soil.
In addition to the snow, we’re seeing more local animal activity — from coyotes to wild turkeys. The number and variety of birds in the area is extraordinary as well. It’s a great time of the year for a visitor, but somewhat awkward for those of us who live here. Few of the local homes are designed for weather this cold, and even my regular ski-resort neighbors admit to being uncomfortably chilly.
Our solution to this temporary drop in temperature is one of Barbara’s favorite cold weather dishes, Leek and Potato Soup. She’s made it for years, but when I began to travel to France for Kermit Lynch, this perennial stomach-warmer became a vital part of my diet on the January trips. The French homes where I developed my fondness for the dish regularly served it at the start of meal, so it was accompanied by a white wine. At home, Barbara likes it as a meal by itself – especially when topped with hearty croutons made from Levain bread. She serves it with a green salad, so with a bottle of red wine, it’s a complete dinner. My wine of choice is the Neyers Left Bank Red.
Our Left Bank Red comes from two vineyards that sit along the left bank of Conn Creek as it flows through our ranch in Conn Valley, just south of Howell Mountain. Thousands of years of activity have resulted in gravel deposits in the area that in spots are almost 50-feet deep. Both the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards planted in that gravel deposit develop characteristics that make the finished wine bright and fresh, full of complex and agreeable flavors that are likeable and easy to drink. The textbook mineral finish makes the wine even more attractive. A bottle served with a piping hot bowl of Leek and Potato soup takes the edge off of even the chilliest Napa Valley evening. We just began to ship our 2020 Left Bank Red, and as usual it’s a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were fermented on the skins for 40 days, and the wine aged 18-months in 60-gallon French oak barrels. We always bottle this wine without fining or filtration, in order to retain its natural flavor and purity.
Leek and Potato Soup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups leeks, approximately 6 leeks, white part only, cleaned and sliced crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
- 3 – 4 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 – 7 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons of minced chives for garnish
- Crystal Diamond Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
- In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and stir to coat with butter.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat. Cook until the leeks are softened. Approximately 10 minutes. Be sure not to brown the leeks.
- Add the chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the potatoes are very tender. Approximately 30 minutes.
- Purée the soup in batches in a blender. Return to pot and add Crystal Diamond Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Place the pot of soup over medium heat to warm soup before serving.
- Garnish each bowl of soup with a few minced chives.