This is an update of a post from 2011, in my earliest days of blogging and certainly before I knew anything about food photography. But that doesn’t really matter because all you need to know is that this Potato Leek Chowder is a simple, fast and delicious soup that belongs in your repertoire.
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.
Classic Belgian Cooking: Potatoes and Leeks
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 we had them often in soups and stews. Although leeks can be an elegant and refined ingredient, they were just an everyday food in my childhood home.
Potato Leek Chowder
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 Meredith still lived at home, sometimes she’d 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 here.
Talk about easy — it’s potatoes, leeks, some vegetable or chicken broth, pepper and a little milk at the end. And, it’s fast to prepare. About 15 minutes prepping the veggies (see the recipe note for the secret of cleaning leeks), 20 minutes on the stove, and a few more 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 enjoy it no more than 45 minutes after walking in the door.
A Bowl of Comfort
Potato Leek Chowder is a bowl of comfort for my family. If you’d like to see a more refined version, check out my Creamy Leek and Potato Soup.
This recipe makes a thick and hearty, chowder-like soup. But it's really up to you how thick you want it. You can add more broth or water during the cooking, or extra milk at the end if you want a thinner soup. Or purée it to a totally smooth consistency if you don't like the texture of chunks of potato and leeks. Total gratitude to Jane Brody for her Potato-Leek Chowder in her Good Food Book; it's the inspiration behind this lightly-adapted version and the hundreds of bowls of it I've served over the years.
- 3 large leeks white and pale green parts only (see Note)
- 3 large baking (Idaho) potatoes
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (grapeseed or other cooking oil)
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1.5 cups milk (your choice of fat content)
Peel the potatoes and wash. Cut off one slice about a half-inch thick, 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, about 1/2 inch long.
Heat the oil in a large pot, then sauté the leeks and potatoes with the ground pepper and salt. Stir frequently. You want them to sweat, but not to brown.
Add the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are 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!
Note: These days, I cut off as little of the dark green leeks as possible — why waste good food? I remove only the toughest and most battered parts.
To clean leeks, slice them lengthwise (cut them in half first if that makes things easier for you). You’ll see that the leek is composed of interlocking rings. Spread these open a bit and run under cold water to rinse out any dirt that’s trapped inside. Lay the leek pieces flat side down, and slice to the desired size. Rinse again well in a colander and shake to drain.
Other Simple Soups
First published 2011 12 04
Republished 2019 10 31