Potato and leek soup is a thick and creamy classic french soup known as Potage Parmentier or, when served cold, vichyssoise. This recipe is extremely quick and easy to make and can be served all year round.
- What is it
- How does potato and leek soup taste
- Professional tips for making the best soup
- Ingredients needed
- Best potatoes for soup
- How to clean leeks
- How to cut leeks for soup
- Useful equipment for this recipe
- How to make it
- Alternative cooking methods
- Popular variations
- How to make it suit your diet
- Serving suggestions
- Frequently asked questions
- Other recipes you might like
- Creamy Potato Leek Soup
- Nutrition Facts
What is it
Originally a cream of potato soup that may or may not have been made with milk instead of cream originating in France in the 18th century.
Many variations have sprung up since then.
Julia child claimed it to be an American concoction and the Welsh conciders it an important part of their Cuisine.
It's simply a very versatile, thick and creamy soup that's easy and cheap to make and can be enjoyed throughout the seasons, hot or cold.
How does potato and leek soup taste
When made correctly, like in this recipe, potato and leek is a wonderful creamy smooth soup that has the perfect balance of richness and subtle earthy and mild sweet onion flavours.
It's important to finish this soup with a healthy grinding of fresh black pepper. A small step that brings all the magic to a simple yet delicious soup.
Autumn through to spring it should be served warm as a light cosy lunch dish or as an appetiser on a cold rainy night before a properly cooked ribeye steak.
Professional tips for making the best soup
- Base ingredients - Always start any soup by gently sauteing base ingredients like onion, garlic or other aromatics. It lays down the foundation for an exceptionally tasty soup with lots of flavour depth. Creamy soups like this one and more stewy soups like Ukrainian borscht or chanterelle mushroom soup all use the same principle.
- Never use water - Even if you make a simple vegetable or pumpkin stock with some onion skins and other vegetable trimmings like the roots of the leek and some garlic, it's still better than just using flavourless water. The blander you liquid the less flavour your soup will have.
- Don't add the liquid all at once - This is a big mistake lots of cooks make. If you add too much liquid to your base ingredients you will end up with a runny soup which is difficult to fix. You can always add a bit of liquid if it's too thick. Removing it is not so simple.
- Simmer don't boil - This goes for all soups apart from Ramen where the rapid boiling is needed to emulsify fats in the stock. Always simmer the soup gently as soon as your liquids have been added to the base ingredients. Boiling will cause some of the gentle flavours to literally boil away and you might end up reducing it too much.
- Use the green parts - Almost every recipe for potato leek soup will tell you to throw away the greens. They are terribly wrong. I made this soup in a Michelin starred restaurant every day for a year and I can promise you throwing out the greens of the leek is a terrible sin. They add incredible flavour and colour when cut correctly and cooked at the right moment.
- Always remove spices or hard herbs before blending - As soon as things like bay leaf, star anise or thyme sprigs have given their flavour to the soup, remove it. Blending these with the soup will ruin your hard work.
- Season, taste, repeat - The first bit of salt will go in when you are cooking the onions. This is so that the salt draws out moisture from them and helps to prevent the onions from caramelising before they are cooked. Taste at every step so you know how the flavours are progressing as you add ingredients. When the soup is done you should season little by little until you are happy with it. Take care not to taste ingredients or soup that is too hot. If you burn your tongue even slightly, you will have a hard time tasting properly and might over season the food.
You don't need many ingredients to cook this soup and it will be pretty friendly on your wallet. All the ingredients are easy to find in your local supermarket and most of it you probably have sitting in the pantry already.
- Leek - Use fresh small to medium-sized leeks with the green attached.
- Potato - Most potato varieties will work but, some are a bit better than others in giving a perfect consistency. More on that down below.
- Onion - Regular white onion or shallot.
- Garlic - Juicy fresh and not dried out.
- Thyme - Fresh thyme. Dried has a different flavour. Onion and thyme are a match made in a happy place. Keep that in mind when you cook other dishes that use onions as a base.
- Bay leaf - Another favourite of mine. Use dried or fresh. Also a classic combo with onions and garlic.
- Cream - Double cream all the way or no cream at all. More on making a no cream version of this recipe later.
- Chives - This is a finishing touch sprinkled on top when serving. It intensifies the flavour of the soup and adds a nice freshness.
- Chicken stock - The classic French way is with chicken stock or broth and I urge you to use it if you eat meat. Either make your own or pick up a good store-bought version. If you are vegan here is a vegan broth.
- Seasoning - Natural sea salt and an extra-large helping of freshly ground black pepper. Leek Potato and black pepper are another one of those flavour matches made in a happy place.
Best potatoes for soup
For this recipe, I used Desiree red-skinned potatoes. They are medium waxy with thin skin and make amazingly smooth mashed potatoes.
This is why they are perfect for either cream of potato soup or even stew where you want them to keep their shape.
Because this is a pureed soup. We will be cooking the potatoes until falling apart and then blending.
This makes the type of potato you use more forgiving so if you can't find Desiree then use what you have.
How to clean leeks
Before you cook anything with leeks they need to be thoroughly cleaned.
They are full of dirt and failing to get into every nook and cranny will spoil whatever you are cooking.
No one likes biting down on grit.
There are two parts to a leek. The white part and the green part. Most of the dirt will be where these two parts meet.
The solid tight white part will be clean inside while the green part will be sandy.
Separate the white part from the green. Rinse the whites under cold running water.
To make sure the green parts are properly cleaned, separate them into individual pieces and also rinse thoroughly under running water.
How to cut leeks for soup
The white part and green part take different times to cook.
The white part is soft and cooks fairly quickly while the green is more woody and fibrous.
When cooking the green part we want it to cook quickly and be able to blend smoothly when cooked while keeping it's vibrant colour and intense flavour.
In a few simple steps we will have the perfect cut leek for this soup.
- Remove the root from the leek - Discard it or wash very thoroughly before using in a vegetable stock.
- For the white part - Cut in half lengthways and then very finely slice into semi-circles.
- For the green part - Cut each green part in half lengthways and then extremely into extremely thin strips across the grain of the fibres. This is to make sure it cooks quickly, preserving the colour and also blends smoothly without long fibres obstructing the blender.
Useful equipment for this recipe
Sauce Pan Set
Wooden Chopping Board
Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife
High Speed Blender
How to make it
You'll be happy to know that this is a one-pot soup recipe. That means little washing up and more space in your kitchen.
- Separate the white and green parts of the leek. Clean both parts of the leek thoroughly. Cut the white into thinly sliced semi-circles and the green into very thin strips across the grain of the fibre. Keep the two separate as they will be cooked at different times.
- Finely dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel and wash the potatoes then cut into 2mm thick small slices. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks, and heat a sauté pan or soup pot on medium heat with a splash of canola or other neutral-tasting oil.
- Sauté the onion, garlic, white part of the leek, potato, bay leaf and thyme leaves together adding half the salt required in the recipe. Keep the pot or pan covered with a lid while cooking. Do not let the ingredients caramelise.
- When the veggies are soft add the cream and chicken broth followed by the finely sliced green part of the leek. Cover with a lid and cook on medium-high for about 3 minutes taking care not to let it catch on the bottom or boil over.
- After the 3 minutes are up turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves.
- Blend in a high-speed blender taking care not to let the steam build up inside the jug which could lead to hot soup everywhere. The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure the lid of the blender has an opening at the top and the blender starts blending on a slow speed instead of 6th gear straight away. If you don't have a high-speed blender a good immersion blender also works. Just make sure pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve after blending to make sure it's completely smooth and creamy.
- Finally, season with the rest of the salt and add the freshly ground black pepper. Taste it and adjust if needed. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly chopped chives, a drizzle of olive oil and some more freshly cracked black peppers.
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Alternative cooking methods
Although cooking leek and potato soup on the stove is better for flavour and colour, you can also cook it in your favourite slow cooker like an Instant Pot.
Because leek and potato is such a basic combination it also lends itself well to being customised. Try one of the following:
- With bacon - When frying the veggies add some smoked bacon or pancetta. Or, fry the bacon separately until crispy, chop up and sprinkle on top when serving.
- Add chicken - If you are making your own chicken broth you probably have chicken meat to shred and add into the soup. Otherwise, simply cook a juicy chicken breast and add to the soup when serving.
- With a hint of spice - Be creative by adding a bit of Indian curry paste or simply finish with a bit of ground cumin or freshly grated nutmeg.
- Add other veggies - You might want to add some other vegetables like roasted pumpkin, or chop up some steamed spinach and add that in to make it a bit healthier.
How to make it suit your diet
- Vegan - To make a vegan potato leek soup simply replace the cream with a nut or grain milk and the chicken broth with vegetable broth or vegan chicken broth.
- Dairy-Free or no cream - As with the vegan version you can substitute the cream with oat milk, grain milk, coconut milk or simply replace with more broth or stock.
Soups are versatile dishes and can be served in a variety of settings with different add-ons or toppings.
- With homemade croutons - Make your own homemade croutons or buy a good store-bought version
- Fresh Sourdough bread - Any type will do. I love this no-knead rye sourdough or this flaxseed sourdough bread. Toast it in a bit of olive oil just before serving.
- With Simple salads - You can serve it as a light lunch alongside a healthy Greek salad, classic Caesar salad or a seasonal roasted pumpkin salad.
- Before the main meal - Serve as an appetiser before a roasted leg of lamb, buttery chicken Kiev, or crispy salmon fillet.
- With healthy veggies - Maybe you just want some healthy roasted or steamed veggies with it. These are my favourites. Roasted broccoli, bok choy and whole roasted cauliflower rubbed in adjika.
Frequently asked questions
Always cool it down before placing in the fridge covered. It will keep in the fridge for 5 days.
For longer storage you can portion it in airtight sealable plastic containers and freeze for up to 6 months.
When defrosting any food always do so overnight in the fridge or by using your microwave's defrost function. Never let it sit on the counter or in tepid water. You run the risk of food poisoning defrosting food like that. Always reheat above 75°C or 167°F.
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