When the weather starts to cool, one of the first things I make is potato leek soup. It's the perfect warm, comforting thing at the end of a long day in the field (or the office). I made a big batch at the farm, which we all ate for dinner, and again for lunch the next day. The best part was watching folks doctor their bowls to suit their tastes, adding hot peppers, olive oil, or even quinoa.
Potato Leek Soup
- Potatoes (basic russets or other white potatoes)
- Vegetable stock or water with bouillon cubes
- Salt and pepper
- Optional ingredients: leafy green (like kale or chard), hot peppers (fresh or dried), quinoa, canned or fresh beans, chives
- Special equipment: Immersion blender or electric mixer
- Remove bottom (roots) of leeks and slice into 1/2-inch coins, up to the point where the leaves are dark green (discard roots and leaves)
- Put leek slices in a bowl of cold water and take them apart with your fingers. You don't have to get all of them, but it's a good way to get dirt and sand out of there.
- Heat olive oil in a big pot and add cleaned leeks
- Saute at a medium heat until leeks are very soft, stirring regularly to keep them from charring
- Add salt and pepper
- Dice and add potatoes (I like to dice them small so they cook faster!) and stir to coat potatoes
- Add vegetable broth to just cover potatoes. When I use bouillon cubes, I just put water in and add the cubes directly to the pot, usually using one fewer than the ratio suggested on the box, since they can be very salty.
- Bring soup to a simmer and cook until a fork easily pushes through the largest of the potatoes
- With an immersion blender or electric mixer, blend the soup until creamy. If it's too thick, add more vegetable broth. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Making It Your Own
Potato leek soup is great as-is, but it's also a fairly blank canvas, waiting for your additions. Here are some of my favorites:
When my soup is all done, I like to add greens. A handful of sliced raw kale or chard goes right into the soup, where it is cooked quickly. This brings some healthy elements to the soup and keeps it from all being the same texture.
Yesterday for lunch I heated up soup and mixed in some pre-cooked quinoa. It added nice texture and a good dose of protein to the soup. Want other proteins? Try mixing (drained) canned chickpeas, or frozen soy beans into your soup after blending.
Chives are the traditional potato leek soup-topper, and with good reason. The onion-y herb plays well off the smooth, creamy soup.
After serving the soup, try drizzling a bit of olive oil on each serving for a fresh taste that cuts the heavy soup.
If you're a cheese-eater, definitely try the soup with a handful of grated cheese on top. The cheese will melt into the soup, making it even more decadent.
For a spicy soup, add fresh hot peppers to the pan at the start when sauteing the leeks. If you're working with dried and ground peppers (like powdered cayenne) add it along with the salt and pepper.
How do you make your potato leek soup your own? Share your favorite additions in the comments below!