Potato Leek Soup

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leek potato soup
Creamy, creamy, creamy!

You might think that this recipe is just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and you could certainly make it up for dinner on the 17th; however,  we have to tell you that we’re not sure how Irish this particular recipe is. Sure, you can find plenty of Irish versions of potato leek soup, but, as far as we could tell, most of them used heavy cream, which we didn’t have on hand. So, we went with this recipe, and, based on the book from which it came, it might just be a French recipe! Regardless of the nationality, we can say that potato leek soup knows no borders when it comes to good, filling nourishment. So, where did we get it? From Around my French Table, by Dorie Greenspan. We will say that we took a few liberties with the recipe, but we’re pretty sure that every batch of soup is slightly different, anyway.

Let’s scratch up some of this perhaps French, perhaps Irish, definitely delicious soup, shall we?

Potato Leek Soup

Yield: 4-6 servings

Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 leeks, quartered, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2-3 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • For topping
  • Croutons
  • Dried chervil

Abbreviated Instructions

Melt butter in a large stock pot. When melted, stir in leeks and garlic until well coated. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes, or until soft.

Add remaining ingredients, along with a bit more salt and pepper, then increase the heat and bring to a boil.

Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer, mostly covered, until all vegetables are soft, 30 to 40 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and heat as needed.

Serve topped with croutons and chervil.

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Ingredient discussion:

Conventionally grown potatoes are notorious for the amount of pesticides and fungicides applied during their growth, so we recommend organic, but, failing that, peel them. You might be tempted to use onions in this recipe, and, if you do, you’ll still have a good soup, but there’s just something special about using leeks, so, as one might say, “seek the leek.” We think that Around my French Table is the first place that we read about de-germing the garlic clove before slicing — that little growth sprout, or germ, is quite harsh in taste — but the difference is enough that we’ve removed the germ from every clove ever since. Finally, the vegetable broth. We used our roasted vegetable stock, but use your favorite.

Procedure in detail:

mise en place
Leeks are milder and have a better flavor than most other Alliums (onion family) and it’s worth the effort to seek them out.

Prep. Leeks are notoriously gritty, but here’s one way of washing away that grit.  Slice the leek from the top down, but not all the way through, then turn the leek 90 degrees and slice down from the top again, making the leek fan out in quarters. Wash under running water, spreading the leek open to get water into all the crevices. Ta da, a washed leak. Now, slice it into quarter rings. Cut the potatoes into roughly equal-size pieces (peeling if needed, natch), and prep everything else. Prepping makes cooking and baking fun, and, once you get in the habit, you won’t go back.

cooking leeks
Once everything is coated with butter, it’ll only take a few minutes for the leeks to become tender.

Cook leeks. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add leeks and garlic, sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt, about 1/4 teaspoon, and stir until everything is coated with butter and glistening. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, until tender, about 10 minutes.

making leek potato soup
Our broth was still in a frozen state so it took longer to boil. We often freeze extra vegetable stock so we can have freshly-made stock on hand.

Add everything else. Add the potatoes, broth, wine, thyme, a bit more salt and pepper, and sage leaves, Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. When the soup begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a simmer and partly cover, cooking until everything is soft, about 40 minutes.

Season. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper as needed. Tastes good already, right? If you don’t have a blender, you can serve it as is, but we think this is even better as a creamy smooth soup.

blending leek and potato soup
Don’t be afraid to run a blender a long time to get the creamiest soup possible.

Blend. Working in batches, blend the daylights out of the soup, until it’s smooth — super smooth — then return to the soup pan to reheat as necessary.

Serve. We ladled our soup into bowls, topped with a couple of croutons — scratched up in our oven — and a sprinkle of dried chervil (somewhat like parsley, but milder).

We couldn’t believe that this soup wasn’t made with cream. It was one of the creamiest, smoothest, soups we’ve had. But, more than that, this was also one of the best soups that we’ve had, bursting with flavor — a nicely balanced flavor, mind you — from the potatoes and leeks. We really couldn’t imagine making this soup any better. It was just about perfect, an easy five stars.

Worth the trouble?

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