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Standard Leek & Potato Soup still bursts with flavor

January 26th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Cooking tips, Food preparation, recipes

Like lots of cooks, I long ago learned how to make Leek & Potato Soup. It’s a standard-bearer of the maxim, “less is more.” Somewhere along the line, though, I quit making it, and yesterday I righted that wrong. It warmed me to the bone.

With what’s left, I can enjoy that wonderful flavor again, just as it is, or use it as the base for countless soup variations. Not bad for a soup I had it on the stove in less than 15 minutes.

Leek & potato soup

  • 1 pound russet potatoes (baking-type potatoes), about 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 pound leeks
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, cream or half-and-half (which I used)
  • Fresh minced parsley or chives for garnish (see note)
  1. Peel and dice potatoes. Wash leeks well to remove sand (see below), then slice.
  2. Place potatoes, leeks, salt and water in 3-4 quart pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Mash or puree vegetables.
  3. Remove from heat, then stir in butter, cream or half-and-half. Serve in warm bowl with minced herbs for garnish. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Lacking parsley and chives, I minced up some celery leaves. They, being a paler green, weren’t quite as pretty in the soup as the herbs would have been, but they worked, and I even liked the flavor.

Variations: You can add chopped greens, carrots, peas or other vegetables toward the end of the cooking, allowing just enough time to cook them. Feel free also to add even closer to the end already-cooked (read: leftover) vegetables or diced chicken. Or try some other combination that appeals to you. This is a great start to many other soups.

Cleaning leeks

As I understand it, leeks get some of their distinctive personality from having sandy dirt piled up around each stalk as it grows. The parts under cover stay white and tender. They also can get gritty. To make the cleanup easier, do this:

  1. Trim off root end and dark, tough leaves.
  2. Cut through the leaf end in half both vertically and horizontally:
  3. Immerse the thus-prepped leeks in water for a few minutes. (You can weight them with a plate to hold them underwater.)
  4. Swirl the leeks vigorously through the water to rinse away the now-softened/loosened dirt.
  5. Rinse again under running water, and use as desired.


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Cheryl

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never made a proper leek and potato soup. I’ve always been under the (obviously false) impression that it contains tons of fat, but yours — with only 3 tablespoons of butter or cream — shows me I was wrong. And on the table in under 15 minutes?? I’m there.

  • Janet Majure

    Whoa, Cheryl! That’s on the stove in under 15 minutes! It still has to cook for 45 minutes or so. (Sure hope you didn’t plan tonight’s dinner around it!!)

  • Sandy

    Recently found an excellent thickener in the UK. Sauce flour is a mixture of two flours extremely finely milled. Making a white sauce no longer needs a roux or any fat. Just measure out the flour and water, mix together cold, apply to the heat and keep stirring while it both thickens and de-lumps itself! Then add seasoning to taste. Equally I reckon it could be used to further thicken a soup if too much water had been added. As a single male this is ‘manna from heaven’ because I am no cook, really, but prided myself on my sauces.

    • Janet Majure

      Hi, Sandy,
      I’ve never heard of sauce flour, but it’s probably like a brand in the US called Wondra, which you can stir into hot or cold liquids and dissolves without lumps–handy indeed for sauces or thickening soups. This soup doesn’t need thickening, but I suppose you could if you wanted. In any event, thanks for stopping by and commenting!