It’s always surprising to me how delicious food is when it’s prepared simply. It shouldn’t be– I’ve written about the joys of simple preparation before– but it’s true, nonetheless. Such was my delight when Rick made a simple leek and potato soup recently.
Leeks are related to both onions and garlic and have a mild, sweet flavor. They are exceedingly popular in Spain where they are in season from Fall to Spring. We bought ours at the local farmer’s market. If you see puerro on a menu or ingredient list, they’re talking about leeks. You’ll find leeks used in soups, stews and other dishes in place of (or in addition to) onions and garlic.
There are three parts to the leek: the leaves, the bulb and the root. The bulb and the white/light green part of the leaves can be eaten. In order to lighten (or blanch) as much of the leek as possible, dirt is mounded up around the plant as it grows. In consequence, leeks can be very gritty and need careful cleaning during preparation.
Cleaning a leek is simple. Rinse the outside to remove any surface dirt, then trim the root and the hard dark green portion of the leaves (the tops can be used to flavor stock, if you like). Split the leek in half from top to bottom. At this point, you’ll have an idea of how dirty the leek is. You can rinse the split leek under running water, or cut it into bite sized pieces and swish them around in a sink full of water. Use whichever method you prefer as long as you’re able to remove the grit.
This recipe makes enough soup for four people and is easy to double if you want to make more for a crowd.
Rick did not add any seasonings other than salt, pepper and the flavor of the olive oil, but I think thyme would be a nice addition. In addition, we used whole milk but cream would lend a richer flavor.
You can easily alter the liquids to meet the needs of a vegan or dairy free diet. Double the amount of broth used for dairy free or use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Feel free to add more seasonings to make the soup to your liking.
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced into small pieces
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk or cream
- olive oil for sauteing
- salt and pepper to taste
- If you want a “hurry up” soup, cover the potatoes with water and start them cooking in a separate saucepan while you clean the leeks.
- Measure a couple tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a heavy saucepan or dutch oven.
- Saute the leeks until they soften (sometimes you’ll see this referred to as “sweating”). Season them with salt and pepper while they’re cooking.
- Add the potatoes, broth and milk to the leeks. Add more broth or water if needed to barely cover the vegetables.
- Reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are done.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.