Sunny With a Chance of Leeks (for Potato Leek Soup)

Posted on 09 September 2011

Potato Leek SoupLeeks remind me of that squintingly-bright Sunday morning we spent on the paradise of Coronado Island, San Diego, four years ago. My daughter led us on a run past the regal Hotel Del Coronado (where Marilyn Monroe sizzled in “Some Like it Hot”), past magnificent Mission-style clay-roofed homes, and along pristine, underused sidewalks.

About half way around the loop, my daughter spied a bundle of plump, fresh, organic leeks demurely lying on a strip of grass beside the sidewalk. Had there been a gentle leek sunshower?

My daughter picked them up. Upon closer examination, we surmised that they had more likely arrived by limo. These were the Gisele Bündchen of leeks, long and alluring, cleansed as if prepped for a photo shoot. They were clearly worth more than the French toast brunch I would have later at the restaurant.

Did we take this pricey booty? I had rescued much sketchier produce—bruised bananas discarded in a Haymarket alley—and the result was perfect banana bread. There was no apparent owner here. So yes, my daughter carried them the rest of the run and they ended up in her soup pot that night.

So it can be said that while we were out running, we had to stop to take a leek.

A real softy

I am a newcomer to the leek. Only recently have I discovered that this big, usually tough-looking aromatic vegetable is surprisingly mild, and it cooks up softer and faster than onions. It generally requires more rinsing, though, since those not found on Coronado Island tend to have grit on them.

I fell for this Potato Leek Soup recipephany because it plays on the leek’s creaminess to make a rich-tasting soup without anything rich in it. It’s a perfect vegan dish, but all food sects should equally enjoy it.

Potato Leek Soup

  • 2 large whole leeks, prepared and sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, oil or Earth Balance buttery spread (for vegan version)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 4 vegetarian or chicken bouillon cubes
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Prepare the leeks by trimming off the root end and cutting off the tough top dark or ragged outer leaves. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse under cold water, slightly pulling apart the leaves to get rid of all the sand and dirt. Roughly slice.
  2. Sauté sliced leeks and chopped onion in butter, oil or buttery spread in a soup pot until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the water, potatoes, and bouillon, rosemary sprig and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until potatoes soften.
  3. Remove any twig left from the rosemary and puree the soup in a blender or food processor, doing it in two batches. Pour back into the pot and reheat, adding salt a little at a time until the flavors perk up, and pepper. Serve hot or chilled. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.
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