1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the leeks and cook for 2 minutes or until soft. Add the quinces and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaf, cloves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until everything is tender.
2. Blend the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Put the soup back into a pot and add the heavy cream and six to eight swipes of grated nutmeg. If the soup is too thick, add a little water to thin it out. Heat the soup gently just to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and keep warm.
3. Dry the reserved quince peels on some paper toweling. Slice into very thin strips with a sharp knife. Set aside. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil on high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully drop the quince skin into the oil. It should sizzle and fry immediately. Carefully remove and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with a little salt. Lower the heat to medium and add the bread cubes to the skillet. Fry the croutons, turning the cubes to evenly brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with the croutons and fried quince skin.
Originally Published in Organic Gardening Magazine, December/January 2014.
Photo: Matthew Benson