Leek and potato soup is a Belgian’s dream come true. And if that doesn’t mean anything to you, all you need to know is that it’s incredibly easy to make, tasty and hearty.
Growing up with Flemish parents, potatoes were a BIG DEAL in our house. And so were leeks. My mother used to grow them in the garden, and I was very used to having them in soups and stews. Although they can be an elegant and refined ingredient, they were just an everyday food in my childhood home.
I’ve been making this soup since my first child was a toddler, but it’s my third who’s taken a real shine to it. When Mere still lived at home, she would sometimes have it ready when I got home from work (way to get in Mum’s good books!). I haven’t referred to the recipe in years, but when I checked it out today in Jane Brody’s Good Food Book I was a little surprised to see that I really haven’t deviated from the original much at all. She does call for a sprinkling of chopped parsley and cheddar cheese in the bowl, but I’ve never used those. We like it just as it is.
Talk about easy — it’s potatoes, leeks, some chicken broth, pepper and a little milk at the end. And, it’s fast to prepare. Ten minutes prepping the veggies, 20 minutes on the stove, and a few more minutes to finish. If no one has it ready for you when you get home from work, you can whip it up for yourself and sit down to it no more than 45 minutes after walking in the door.
Today was very mild for December, but it rained all day. Not only that, but the redecoration efforts continue. Brent spend hours painting and stripping wallpaper. The least I could do to thank him was to provide a simple but hearty lunch: potato leek chowder and multigrain buns with smoked turkey, mustard and mayonnaise. He raved about the soup, and later on after the wallpaper had been dispatched he even went out and put up the Christmas lights. Not sure if the soup had anything to do with that, but I wonder what else might get crossed off the to-do list if I make it again (not that I would ever prepare it with ulterior motives!).
Potato Leek Chowder
The recipe calls for 2 large leeks, but where I buy them they come in bundles of three, so I’ve adjusted the recipe accordingly. It’s really up to you how thick you want the soup. You can add more broth/water during the cooking, or extra milk at the end if you want it less chowder-like and more like a soup.
- 3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only)
- 3 baking (Idaho) potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive, canola or sunflower oil
- 3 cups chicken broth (I use bouillon powder and dilute it more than the instructions call for, to lessen the sodium)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste (in my case, that’s a lot!)
- 1.5 cups skim milk (I substitute almond milk)
Trim the tops and roots off the leeks. Cut in half lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water. Cut the leeks again lenthwise, so you have long quarter rounds. Then slice into pieces of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. Put into a colander and rinse well again. (Leeks grow in sandy soil, and sometime they can harbour a lot of dirt in their beautiful pale interiors. It’s worth taking the time for the extra rinse. I know we’re all supposed to eat a peck of dirt in our lifetimes, but I prefer not to have mine in my soup.)
Peel the potatoes and wash. Cut off one slice a half-inch thick or less, then set the potato on the flat side to continue cutting slices. Lay these flat and cut in batons as if you were making french fries. Then cut these into dice, again from 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.
Heat the oil in a large pot, then sauté the leeks and potatoes with some ground pepper. Stir frequently. You want them to sweat, but not to brown.
Add the broth and more pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. The vegetables will be nice and soft.
Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mush up or puree all or some of the mixture. I like to use my immersion blender to puree about 2/3 of it, leaving the rest chunky.
Stir in the milk, check for seasonings, and serve. This is a great soup with a sandwich for a light meal. It also makes a lovely starter for dinner. Enjoy!