Sand Bass and Potato Leek Soup

In Shakespeare's play Henry V,  Welsh Captain Fluellen says to his king on the battlefield of Agincourt, "Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow... To this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day."

To which King Henry of England replies, "I wear it for a memorable honour; For I am Welsh, you know, good countryman." The leek is a national emblem of Wales, and legend has it that King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by strapping the vegetable to their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. 

This onion-like vegetable is mild, and tastes like a cross between an onion and potato. Leeks have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years and are widely used in European cooking. When I think of medieval cooking, I think of leeks.

We took the classic Potato Leek Soup, popularly found in British and Irish pubs, and added chunks of sand bass my brother caught last week. It's sort of like a chowder, sans all the cream. And, it's super easy.

Servings: 4-6
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 lb. sand bass filets; or any mild, white fleshed fish 
- 3 large leeks
- 3 tbs. salted butter
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 tsp. marjoram
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, or 2 tsp. fresh thyme
- Tabasco Mild Green Pepper Sauce, to taste
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut off the roots and dark leaves of the leeks. You just want the white and light green parts. Wash thoroughly, especially between the layers. Leeks typically have a lot of sand in them. Don't worry about keeping the layers intact.

2. Chop.

3. Melt butter in a medium sized pot, and cook the leeks on low for ten minutes, covered. DO NOT brown leeks.

4. Add water, chicken broth and diced potatoes to the cooked leeks. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes, covered.

5. In the meantime, trim the skin off the fish. Cut into small 1/2 in. pieces. 

Sand bass are a Socal coastal specie found between mid-Baja, California to Central California. 

Again, you can use any mild, white fleshed fish.

6. After 20 minutes, scoop half of the soup mixture into a blender and puree. Return to pot.
7. Add chopped parsley, marjoram and thyme. Add a few dashes of Tabasco Mild Green Chili Sauce, to taste. It gives the soup an extra kick. 

Salt and pepper to taste. 

8. Finally, add the fish. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the fish turns white and flaky. 

You can even omit the fish. The soup tastes amazing on its own.