Potato Leek Soup

I don’t give leeks enough respect.

As a kid in the grocery store, leeks were GIANT GREEN ONIONS! HEY MOM, LOOK!

Out of season they cost too much. In season, they’re not front-and-center enough. But I need to change that. I do love them so.

Part of the lily family and related to onions and garlic. If you haven’t had them, they’re mild onions without some of the sweetness you might expect. Amazing in soup, like today, or even raw in a salad. Roasted with lemon. Really any way you might use an onion. But you know I love soups!

 

From Kettner’s Book of the Table, 1877, “[The leek] was at one time so much cultivated in England that the very name for a garden was leac-tun, and the very name for a gardener was leac-ward.”

They have a long history around the Mediterranean and we know they were part of the food rations in Ancient Egypt for the workers building the pyramids. As legend has it, in Ancient Rome, Emperor Nero drank leek soup every day to help improve his singing voice.

Potato Leek Soup is an ancient peasant dish still popular today. Plus, it’s easy to make and tastes amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

 

I looked through a few books in my library for a soup recipe. Oddly, I couldn’t find it in my 1896 Fannie Farmer but it was in my 1936 Boston School of Cooking Cook Book (with celery and a bit of cayenne).

This is another dish I’ve never thought of in recipe terms. For me, it’s about ratios. Let me explain.

I buy leeks when they look good at the market or in the store. How many? Usually three or four at a time, depending on how big they are and how they’re being bundled.

So how many medium-sized potatoes? Same as the leeks. If I get three of one, I’ll get three of the other. Is it exact grams, pounds, or cups? No. They don’t all grow exactly the same size and I’ll be darned if I’m going to throw away three inches of leek trim because it’s off weight to the recipe.

So, 1:1.

How many cups of stock? Same.

How many cups of water? Same.

For today, 4 leeks, 4 potatoes, 4 cups of homemade chicken stock, 4 cups of water.

Sure, you could use all stock, all water, or vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian. I’ve seen people do it every way many times. Julia Child only used water, for example. I use half-stock half-water because I don’t really want it to taste so much like a chicken soup but my homemade chicken stock is to. die. for.

But you do you.

Potato Leek Soup is an ancient peasant dish still popular today. Plus, it’s easy to make and tastes amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

In my soup pot, I sauté the leeks in a few tablespoons of butter and a couple good pinches of kosher salt for about 10 minutes. Just to tenderize them.

Then I add the potatoes, stock, water, bay leaves, and several healthy grinds of black pepper. Some folks (like Alice Waters) also like to add some thyme, a couple sprigs or so.

Potato Leek Soup is an ancient peasant dish still popular today. Plus, it’s easy to make and tastes amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Bring that to a boil (takes about 10 minutes), reduce to a simmer, and let it go for 20 more minutes. Stir it now and then.

Remove the bay leaves.

Taste it for salt and pepper. Adjust as necessary. If your stock or broth is salted already, then you’ll add less. Be warned, the stock or broth they sell in the store usually has a goodly amount of salt added. When I make it myself, I don’t add salt because I’ve no idea what I’ll use it for later.

 

Now, people enjoy this soup in many different ways.

Some like to puree it in a blender. If you do, be very careful! Hot liquids in a blender can blow the top off of your blender and the hot soup will burn you. So hold on tight. Blend it for at least a couple of minutes and pour it back through a wire strainer.

Also, if you puree, try to get russet potatoes. The added starch and finer texture seems to work better.

One of the things they teach you in cooking school is that potatoes in a blender tends to come out gummy. In a perfect world, you’d cut the potatoes larger and them push them through a drum sieve. But that’s a lot of work.

Potato Leek Soup is an ancient peasant dish still popular today. Plus, it’s easy to make and tastes amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

I like to use an immersion blender (hand blender) for about 10 seconds right in the pot. It thins out the vegetables and thickens the soup at the same time. But it leaves a lot of vegetables intact – it’s still a chunky soup.

I prefer it warm, some people like it chilled. That used to be called, with cream added, vichyssoise.

Myself, I add a bit of cream once the pot is off the heat.

Again, you do you.

 

In fact… Bonus Tip for Crossword People.

Clue: Crème Gauloise, today.

Answer: vichyssoise

 

Potato Leek Soup is an ancient peasant dish still popular today. Plus, it’s easy to make and tastes amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Potato Leek Soup

Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Bill

Potato Leek Soup is an ancient peasant dish still popular today. Plus, it’s easy to make and tastes amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Print

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 leeks
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock preferably homemade
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Several grinds of black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Trim the roots and dark green leaves from the leeks. Slice in half from end-to-end. Fan out the leaves and wash well to remove any dirt. Slice the leeks into ¼ inch pieces.
  2. Peel the potatoes. Cut into quarters lengthwise and then into ¼ inch slices like the leeks.
  3. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the leeks plus a couple pinches of the salt and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the potatoes, stock, water, bay leaves, remaining salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil (about 10 minutes), reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 20 more minutes. The potatoes should be fork tender but not dissolve.
  6. Remove from heat. Discard the bay leaves.
  7. Stir in cream, if desired.
  8. Taste. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
  9. Puree, if desired. Garnish with croutons, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Soup will keep, sealed up in the refrigerator, for at least a couple of days.

Serve at lunch or dinner, with a salad or vegetable or as a beginning soup course. As you can see, I like a few croutons myself.

Enjoy!

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6 thoughts on “Potato Leek Soup

  1. I love leeks and have made vichyssoise since I first began cooking in my early 20’s. An always favoured first course in the summer months here . . . more or less a similar recipe! I do like it properly chilled and very fine in texture . . . . probably the result of all those trips to France and the wonderful opportunity to go berserk in its many restaurants . . . Oh, am just unpacking my on-line shopping for the next month: six leeks as usual . . . and I’ll buy extra during forays out during the month . . .

    • I love how so many same but different soups can be made from more-or-less the same ingredients. I like some garlic and creme fraiche when chilled as a vichyssoise. But I just love leeks. And fresh from our farmers market? Heaven. Thanks for the comment, Eha. Glad you stopped by :).

  2. Leeks, such a misunderstood veggie. Here in Sweden (as in the rest of Europe), leeks are an important part of our diet. We eat leeks in various ways including soups, but my favorite is to slow sweat a bunch of sliced leeks in butter with fresh thyme. Then make it into a creamy pasta sauce.
    I’m with you, homemade stock. It’s the only way to go. Oh, and don’t give up on those leeks that look a bit past their prime. I find the core to be sweet and full of joy when cooked.

  3. Great post! If people would just taste leeks, they’d love them, I think. They’re so naturally sweet! I used to make a recipe with warm, steamed looks topped with a Creole vinaigrette. It may be on the blog, can’t remember. I need to make them again!

    • I would love to try them with a Creole vinaigrette! They’re like shallots: so versatile, so tasty, but not in so many people’s everyday cooking. Thanks for the comment.

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