In my part of the world, this Spring has been full of extremes. One day it was as hot a Summer’s day, the next two or three could be cold and wet like the middle of winter. Even as I was beginning to think about what to make upon the arrival of my favourite Spring vegetables, like asparagus, I found myself yearning for some comforting hearty warming winter food. For the first time ever, we’re practically swimming in leeks, having finely cracked the “secret to growing leeks”, they are the perfect vegetable for making a smooth, thick and creamy winter soup. The special secret to a creamy vegetable soup is blending in potatoes. My creamy leek and potato soup is incredibly easy and quick, it might be my easiest recipe to-date.
Leek and potato soup has a very subtle flavour. A drizzle of dairy-free yoghurt, a quenelle of cashew cheese or a squeeze of fresh lemon can add acidity to intensify the flavour. A seasoning of freshly cracked black pepper finishes it off nicely as would a sprinkle of freshly chopped chives.
It’s also very easy to turn creamy leek and potato soup into a more substantial meal. Herby drop biscuits are ideal for a weekend lunch or take with a thermos of hot soup on a picnic. With a little more warning, a large bowl of soup with a freshly baked loaf of overnight bread makes a delicious fireside supper.
Choosing your potatoes
You probably know this already, but not all potatoes are created equal – they all have their own special talents. To make a smooth creamy soup you need a potato that is floury and fluffy when cooked; one suitable for baking or mashing. In New Zealand that could be Agria or Ilam Hardy. In Scotland I used to use a Maris Piper, King Edward or Desiree, use what is available where you live.
Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
- 2 medium onions
- 1 leek or 2-3 small leeks (that’s what I grow)
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil or stock for an oil-free option
- 4-5 medium baking or mashing potatoes
- 1 litre well flavoured plant-based stock (preferably a pale colour)
- lemon juice
- sea salt and ground white pepper
- garnishes or choice
Peel and dice the onions. Trim the green tops off the leek or leeks. Half lengthwise and run under the cold tap to remove any soil stuck between the layers and slice into half rounds.
Peel, wash and thinly slice the potatoes – this shortens cooking time.
Heat olive oil in a heavy based pot, add the onions and leeks, gently sauté on a medium heat. A sprinkling of salt helps them release moisture. They should be soft and translucent so they don’t discolour the soup. Pour in the vegetable stock and add the potatoes, cover with a lid and simmer until potatoes are soft.
Blend while warm until smooth, taste. Add a squeeze of lemon – this enhances the flavours and you may need less sea salt and ground white pepper. Taste again and adjust if needed.
Leeks and potatoes are often available year round, but if you like to eat with the seasons, an Autumnal pumpkin and pepper soup might be the dish for you. The winter garden soup is the perfect template to use up small amounts of vegetables you have in the garden or lurking in the fridge.