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Leek and Potato Soup

A winter treat made from storage vegetables. Potatoes keep well when kept in cool, dark conditions after digging. Leeks can be dug and stored in damp sand, or, in theory, they can be left in the garden and dug as needed.

Leaving the leeks in the garden for the winter was a good idea … in theory. I did just fine using a trowel to lift leeks as needed from the garden right through December. But after the January deep-freeze, I had no such luck. As I write this we’ve had three days in the high thirties with pretty strong sunshine, and still NOTHING will pry our reluctant leeks from the frozen ground—not hot water, not my sharp, flat-edged spade. Beneath the bed of straw around the leeks, the underlying soil is hard as cement. Oh, well. Not to be daunted, I clipped the tops of the leeks at ground level and carried on with my soup.

A hat tip goes to the Fannie Farmer Cookbook for the basis of this recipe. Like any soup recipe, it should be adjusted at will.

Not everyone has used leeks before. I use up to the pale green part of the leek; however, you can even use the tougher dark green part if you are willing to sauté that part longer. Farmers and gardeners hill up the soil around leeks to create a long, white tender root, so it’s important to get the dirt and sand out of them. Trim off the roots and the part of the leaves you don’t want to use, then split the leeks lengthwise and let water flow through the layers to clean them.

Leek and Potato Soup

3 T butter
3 stalks celery
3 small leeks or 2 fat leeks
5 medium potatoes
water
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

dry or fresh dill to taste
whipping cream
bacon bits
grated sharp cheddar cheese

Clean leeks and chop finely. Chop celery finely. Peel potatoes and cut into ½” or smaller chunks. Melt butter over medium heat in a thick-bottomed pot. Sauté leeks and celery until soft. Add potatoes (and optional dill), and enough water to just barely cover the vegetables, and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add three cups of milk (and optional cheese and/or bacon) and simmer about 10 minutes more. (Finish with optional cream.)

If you like a smooth or thick soup, use a blender, food processor or immersion blender to puree the soup to the desired consistency.

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