Potato and Leek Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Leek-and-potato soup was once peasant food, but it’s not surprising that the combination is the basis for more elegant soups: both vegetables are available year-round, easy to handle, and flavorful. Here, then, is the simplest potato and leek soup, a recipe that strikes me as medieval. It can warm you on a cold winter day or if you make it in advance cool you down in the middle of summer. The variations are all a little richer and more elaborate, but not much more difficult. Use the oil instead of butter to make this vegan.

2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil

3 medium potatoes, any type, peeled and cut into small cubes

3 leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed and sliced into thin rings Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 quart vegetable stock or water, preferably warmed

01 Put the butter or oil in a large, deep saucepan or casserole over medium heat. When the butter melts or the oil is hot, add the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes.

02 Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.) Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Variations

Pured Potato Soup with Leeks. Carefully pure the soup in a blender (or with an immersion blender), then return it to the pot. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup cream, sour cream, or yogurt and reheat gently; do not let it boil if you use yogurt. Add salt and pepper as needed, garnish with minced chives, and serve.

Vichyssoise. Make the preceding variation, but do not reheat. Instead, chill thoroughly before garnishing with minced chives.

Vegan Vichyssoise. A variation inspired by the South American habit of making soups creamy with the addition of avocado. Let the purГ©ed soup cool slightly in the blender, then stir in the coarsely chopped flesh of 1 to 2 avocados. Chill thoroughly before garnishing with minced chives.

Korean-Style Potato and Leek Soup. Skip Step 1; start with the potatoes, 1 quart water, and 2 tablespoons Chile and Black Bean Paste or soy sauce in a deep saucepan or casserole. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the paste is completely dissolved, then lower the heat to produce a simmer; cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Just before serving, heat 2 tablespoons of neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed (in place of the butter or olive oil), over heat high heat in a wide skillet and, when it’s hot, add the leeks. Cook, stirring or tossing almost constantly, until the leeks are lightly browned at the edges and softened, just a few minutes. Divide the soup among serving bowls, add the stir-fried leeks to each serving, and serve.

4 More Ideas for Potato and Leek Soup

  1. Cook about a cup of shredded carrots or cabbage along with the potatoes and leeks (increase the stock proportionally, or the soup will become too thick).
  2. Finish the soup with a topping of other fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, or chervil.
  3. Grate a little Parmesan over all.
  4. Add another vegetables , asparagus is good or a portion of the potatoes.