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Potato-leek soup with fried artichoke hearts, lemon thyme oil & parmesan cheese

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups thinly sliced leeks (white part only), cleaned and rinsed
½ cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups milk
1 cup diced, cooked, and cleaned fresh artichoke hearts
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
salt and pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
Lemon-Thyme Oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter in a large soup pot over low flame. Add leeks and celery to pot. Allow mixture to cook slowly 12 to 15 minutes or until limp and leeks are somewhat translucent. Add wine to pot and increase flame to medium. When wine has reduced some add stock and potatoes; simmer until potatoes are falling apart (approx. 20 mins.). Turn off heat and puree soup in blender. Return soup to pot, correct for salt and pepper, cover pot, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add salt and pepper to flour, stir to blend. Lightly coat artichoke pieces with milk, then do the same with the flour; remove excess flour. Saute floured artichoke pieces in non-stick pan with vegetable oil over high heat until well-browned on all sides. Drain on a paper towel.

Ladle hot soup into bowls. Place a small handful of fried artichoke pieces into the center of each bowl of soup. Place a spoonful of Lemon-Thyme Oil over the top of the artichokes and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Lemon-Thyme Oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Fresh chopped thyme
1 tbsp. Fresh chopped chives
½ tsp. Chopped fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
pinch salt and pepper

Stir all above ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use in soup. Makes about ½ cup oil. (This oil is also great with fish!)

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