Last updated on December 21st, 2015
SNOW, SNOW, AND MORE SNOW: Yesterday, winter storm “Pax” dumped two feet of white on my Hudson Valley region. Thus I’m officially house-bound. To warm my body, I lit a fire in the parlor fireplace. And to soothe my soul, I prepared a pot of Leek and Potato Soup.
Are you familiar with this mildly-onion-flavored brew which the French call Potage Parmentier? It’s simple to make. It’s inexpensive, too. And it’s outrageously delicious. You can serve it hot in winter, or cold in summer. Served cold, the soup is called Vichyssoise.
Here’s the recipe in photographic steps, followed by a photo-less (and therefore printer-friendly) copy-and-paste version:
And roughly dice the white and tender green parts.
Throw the tough green leaves on the compost pile.
Next, grab a heavy pot, which, by all rights, ought to be purple.
Add four tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pot, and melt them over a very low flame. The butter shouldn’t color at all.
And several grinds black pepper, plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt.
Give the works a stir with an appropriately-hued spatula…
And then cover the pot, and let the leeks steam slowly (they shouldn’t color at all) until perfectly tender — 10-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, take a handsome pair of boiling potatoes (I favor ‘Yukon Gold’)…
And peel and roughly dice them.
To keep the spuds from turning brown, just drop them into a bowl of cold water.
When the leeks are definitely tender, cover them with 6 cups of boiling water.
To hold the leeks in velvety suspension, thicken the liquid. To do this the easy (and gluten-free) way, whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with one 1/4 cup of cold water.
Increase the heat, tip the cold cornstarch mixture into the hot liquid, and stir constantly for a minute or two while the pot comes to a boil.
Now drain the potatoes, and add them to the leeks.
Then partially cover the pot, lower the heat, and let the ingredients simmer quietly until the potatoes are tender — 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, look at the winter-wonderland outside your window…
And say “hello” to the little squirrel who is observing the snow from your window sill.
Back to the soup: Off heat, stir in 1 cup of milk, cream, or a combination of the two.
You could very well enjoy this soup as is. Just give it a sprinkling of minced parsley.
Or, for a peasanty but not-too-chunky texture, mash the potatoes with a potato-masher.
Otherwise, if you wish to serve the soup as an elegant first course for dinner, puree it.
Personally, I like my Leek and Potato Soup coarsely pureed.
You could serve the potage in soup plates, with a sprinkling of herbs…
Or in a mug, decorated with a spoonful of heavy cream and a single parsley leaf.
For a first-course, however, you might like to pour the soup into two-handled Bouillon cups. Decorate these, too, with a drizzle of heavy cream and a single parsley leaf.
In any event, don’t forget the wine. I can tell you that hot Leek and Potato Soup and icy Sauvignon blanc is a match made in heaven.
As promised, here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:
Leek and Potato Soup, as made by Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 4 servings as a main course, or 6-8 servings as a first course
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4-5 medium-to-large leeks, the white and tender green roughly diced
1 tablespoon kosher salt, and grinds of black or white pepper
6 cups boiling water
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
2 medium (2-lbs) “boiling” potatoes (such as ‘Yukon Gold’), peeled and coarsely diced
1 cup milk or cream, or a combination of the two
For flavor and decoration: A little heavy cream and some whole or minced parsley leaves for each serving
Special Equipment: A heavy-bottomed pot which will hold 4-5 quarts
1. Melt the butter in the pot over a low flame. The butter shouldn’t color at all. Add the diced leeks; stir in the salt and pepper. Cover the pot, and let the leeks steam until perfectly tender — 10-20 minutes.
2. Cover the leeks with the boiling water. Then increase the heat, and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Stir slowly and constantly for 1 minute while the brew boils.
3. Add the potatoes, partially cover the pot, and let simmer until tender — 20-30 minutes.
4. Off heat, stir in the milk, the cream, or a combination of the two.
Serve in soup plates, along with a drizzle of heavy cream and a single parsley leaf or a sprinkling of minced leaves.
For a some-what less-peasanty soup, mash the potatoes with a potato-masher before serving, then decorate with cream and parsley.
For an elegant first course (or to serve in mugs), puree the soup, then decorate as before.
The soup can be made a day or two in advance. When thoroughly cool, cover and refrigerate.
Think you’ll try my version of this simple French soup? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love hearing from you.
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A Rustic Bacon & Leek Tart
Smoked Trout on Toast
Elma in Scotland says
One of my fav soups and so easy too!!
This looks like tonight’s dinner except mine will be cooked in the blue version of your pot. Although that new palm colored line looks pretty swell 🙂
Ohhhh if only I had a few leeks! Mmmmm……it’s wintry mix here….like we need it…..and I’m not venturing out in it!
Cary Bradley says
Dinner tonight! Grew leeks from seed with goal of vichysoise (sp be damned) and have been waiting for the perfect night, and here she is. Like Sharon above, ours will be in the aqua version. Even have a baguette!!! Hoorah. Kevin, thank you so very much. So excited!!!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Cary – Let me know how it turns out for you. I made it (yet) again today, and pureed it with my nifty new immersion blender!
Love your sit & have used your recipes quite a bit. They never fail, our delightful. I will try your soup soon it looks & sounds wonderful. Your personal comments are funny & helpful.
Thanks for sharing, Linda
Susan Iseman says
Agree Kevin! Leek & Potato is simple, elegant and delicious. Have you ever tried using Arrowroot- instead of cornstarch? It’s a bit less starchy and works wonders – you can stir it into the warm liquid and whisk it in no need for heavy cream. I usually top off this soup with a snip of fresh chives. Bon apetit!
Is it possible to add the nutritional facts your recipes contain. I love your website. I love the sleek soup recipe and I am definitely going to get the immersion blender to make the soup.
Thanks for all you do.
Definitely on for tomorrow night. Guess my Leeks out of the freezer will have to do for this time. Hopefully it turns out as delicious as yours looks. I knew I bought that 5 qt cast aluminum pot for a reason.
Ps how is your winter sowing coming along? I have 20 jugs started so far
This looks lovely. My mom made this soup for me when I was a kid and it reminds me of snowed-in snow days. Delicious memories:)
My mother (of German /Swedish descent) made this all the itme when we were growing up, as did her mother before. We add tiny dumplings to ours near the end of the potato cooking time.(maybe that’s the German/Swede part) Tasty eaten right away but heaven eaten the next day. She used to make a large pot when I was home for the weekend in college and I would take it back with me. Had all of my roomies clamoring for it. 🙂 I made a big pot just the other day. It didn’t last long.
Susan Rubinsky says
I make a similar soup but because my son loves meat in his soups, I add sauteed kielbasa (being Eastern European means we almost always have kielbasa in the freezer). It’s quite amazing with the kielbasa. Also, I don’t always add cream and sometimes it’s fabulous with a dollop of sour cream (the Eastern European in me coming out again 🙂
You’ve inspired me on this warm, drizzly Florida day
Best. Soup. Ever. A personal favorite since childhood, I’d also eat it at any hour, or temperature. I usually make it in a large stockpot with a 5 pound bag of potatoes to share with friends and neighbors, did that a few weeks ago when there was a big snowstorm here and we were all snowed in. I puree about half in the Vitamix, leaving a lot of chunks for texture, imagine that an immersion blender would be much more efficient. Have potatoes, now I need to go buy leeks!
Bill Schnippert says
Try thickening with mashed up potatoes(use your new stick blender), instead of corn starch. Much better to my taste. Just cook up 3 “handsome potatoes”, and mash up 1/3. tastes good with a venison neck too(not all of it, save a good portion and drippings for mashed potatoes and gravy another night). I usually pressure cook the neck. I’ll bet that yummy little squirrel would be good in there too.
Mickie Christiansen says
Love the recipes, and the sweet pics, and the helpful hints from readers. Thankyou everyone!
Susan in S.W.Mass. says
Kevin, is that bacon or croutons in the cover picture? Ether sounds good to me. Just got the leeks yesterday and wondered what to do with them, so many choices, no question now. Thank you as always.
Perfect day to check my INBOX after SOUP SUNDAY fellowship at church. Yep, I made a double batch of French Green Lentil Soup with bacon following Christopher Kimball’s Cook’s Illustrated Recipe. Guess what…nary a drop was left, so your recipe is next. The RED Dutch oven is washed and ready for the next soup and the leeks are an easy purchase. As usual, the perfect recipe for late evening dinner with good bread and spinach/arugula salad.
BTW, the cranberry tart is out of this world yummy! Thank you, thank you, for always sharing a cooking short cut, delicious no fail recipes with photos and commentaries that brighten anyone’s day!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Susan in S.W. Mass. – For the cover photo, I garnished the soup with croutons. To make the croutons, I took a few slices of the baguettes I baked the other day, and then cubed them and fried them in a little olive oil. Delicious!
Sue Turner says
Just had your recipe for dinner tonight! It was absolutely delicious! Thnaks! It didn’t need it, but I added some sharp cheddar cheese. Next time, for lunch tomorrow, I’m going to omit the cheese.
A favourite soup of mine too. Leeks are the national emblem of Wales, land of my birth & dearest husband, Gary grows leeks for me every year in his fabulous Kinderhook vegetable garden. Thanks for the gluten free version, Kevin.
Mary Jouver says
Love this recipe but I use chicken broth instead of water….adds a nice flavor.
This recipe looks so yummy! Leeks are going on my shopping list! I love your purple soup pot- what is the brand? I am in need of new cookware? What do you recommend?
made the challah last week and took a loaf up to my parents. They ate the entire thing in less than a day!! That’s how good it was:)
just remember to wash the leeks really, really well. And then rinse them again. The way they push up from the ground gets soil and grit deep in between those leaves. Nothing worse than enjoying your delicious soup and realizing that is not coarse salt you are crunching on.
I love homemade soup and will be making this in the Red version of your purple pot. Just wondering about using boiling water rather than a chicken or vegetable stock. I always like the depth of flavor a stock adds to a soup. Have you tried it both ways?
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Karen – The traditional French version of this soup — as described by Escoffier and others — uses water. But I have no doubt that chicken stock would be wonderful.
Toni Kitchen says
I am going to make this soup Kevin, and thank you for the recipe. Just printed it off and it will go into our “Kitchen Kookin’ ” book. : )
Making leek and chicken pot pie for tea tonight.
Have a great day and please keep those letters coming. They are a light on a gloomy day.
Hugs from England,
Hazel Steenman says
Kevin, thank you for this recipie and clear directions. I just finished having a bowl of this yummy soup and a glass of the Sauvignon blanc as well. I made the soup whilst camping in my new home without the proper utensils and was wondering what the brand name of your purple pot is? I follow your site faithfully and always greatly enjoy your creations. Thanks again, Kevin. Hazel
Just made this soup a couple of weeks ago, but it sure wasn’t inexpensive. Leeks here are very expensive and have to be considered a luxury at $2.99 a pound, especially when you have to throw away the tough green parts (about half of the leek). It’s a bargain, though, when you grow your own. Are you going to give us growing tips? One of the ways I encourage a lot of white part is to surround the leek when it is about 5 inches high with half of a paper towel roll (the center part) so I save both those and tp roll centers all winter for this duty.
Love your blog. I just finished making your leek and potato soup for dinner tonight. It’s delicious! I pureed it with the stick blender. It’s nice and velvety. I can’t say I baked my own bread though….
I may not be able to wait until my husband gets home!
I am still pulling leeks from my snow covered garden. ( I live on the west coast of Canada in the warmest part of the country – first real snow last Sunday!)
This soup is the best recipe I have found yet. I think the secret is the simplicity. No weird chicken stock or other herbs to muddy the flavor.
My immersion blender is not purple, alas, nor is my soup pot,. I may have to do something about that! In the meantime I will use the boring white one.
Hazel Steenman says
I Have realized the name of your purple pot, am wondering of its capacity? Could you share the size of your Le Crueset Round French Oven pot, in Truffle? I live in Canada and will welcome your cookware advice.
I really like leek and potato soup. I do get my leeks from the grocery store and have been wondering if they are different from wild leeks. My husband says the soup I make is good but I have never made real leek soup. What, are the leeks I use made of plastic? (he does not even cook so how would he know) What are your thoughts on leeks and have you ever used wild leeks?
Fabulous recipe! Thank you for sharing Kevin, I know it’s a keeper when the hubby asks for a “do over”! Will be placed in the rotating menu options in our home. Love your site……
Hope to make this sometime this week – and hope it freezes well, because I never have any homemade soup when I want it unless I have it in the freezer.
Julie R says
This looks like a perfect winter soup, can’t wait to try it this weekend. Lily has the right idea to keep warm by the fireplace = )
So here’s a question: What if (in a pathetic attempt to decrease dairy fat consumption), sub the butter for olive oil and replace the whole milk with skim or (god help us) almond milk?
( should I just slink out of the comment queue now?)
Made your soup tonight with a few of my additions…always have to add on…added a couple of celery stalks to the leek mix & 2 parsnips to the potatoes…finished it off with a sprinkling of fennel seeds…basically your delicious recipe…went well with a grilled chicken/cheese sandwich…love your recipes/comments…
I found this very salty. Should it be 1 tsp of kosher salt rather than 1 tbs? Delicious though.