Monday, August 5, 2013

Mystery Ingredient Monday: Leeks

When my sister Mary and her husband Jim were dating, she accompanined him and his family on a trip to Ireland to visit extended family. Mary came home with bodhráns, penny whistles, story books that featured Irish legends such as Cúchulainn and Queen Maeve, but the best thing she brought home was a very slim cookbook called "Irish Soups and Stews." It was in that tiny little cookbook that I first learned the wonder that is leek and potato soup. The simple recipe was easy to memorize and I brought it with me to college and made it for friends often. A few years later, it was on the pretext of telling me he liked the soup Kate had served him (she had called earlier that day for the recipe), that Mark got up the courage to call me the first time*. It was also the first real dinner I prepared after recovering from morning sickness. Can you tell this is my favorite soup recipe?

The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity. You really can't mess up the proportions. Too thin? Boil another potato in the broth. Too thick? Add more broth. This recipe is very earthy. Literally, the potatoes and leeks are both covered in dirt before you wash them. And while the flavors meld into a heavenly combination, it's still no beauty to look at. Honestly, it looks like a baby food puree.

2 of the 5 ingredients

The finished product. And yes, we often eat at our coffee table, but I'm sure that'll change eventually
Leek and Potato Soup

2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only
2 med, or 1 lg russet potato
4-6 T butter
chicken broth

1.) Wash and chop the leeks and potatoes. 
2.) Melt butter in a large saucepan, add leeks and cook until softened, but not browned.
3.) Add chopped potatoes, cover with chicken broth, bring to a boil, cook until potatoes are tender.
4.) Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree in the saucepan, or in batches if all you've got is the on the counter version, be sure to vent it to let the steam escape. 
5.) Season to taste, add more broth if it's too thick.

That's it, the end! The cookbook also had a variation where you added chopped asparagus with the leeks, and added cream at the end. And then you have cream of asparagus soup. Also yummy.

Jessica's hosting next week's ingredient which she has already announced here. And I'm curious to see what Tasha and my brother cooked up for this week.  If you're playing along via facebook, be sure to tag one of us, and if via the 'gram or twitter, #mysteryingredient

*Yes, I know I'm holding out on part II; it'll probably be posted the night before the first day of school when I should be putting the finishing touches on my classroom. 


  1. Well done as always. Couldn't tell that was the coffee table. Who baked the bread? Not I, said the Little Red Hen.

  2. Silly Pepin, indeed. Oh well. I will have to try your soup again to see if that improves my likeness of the vegetable.
    It was so long ago that you made it for me that I don't remember the taste. What a shame.