Soup Day!

I like soup on cold days.

In these coming hard times… learn to make soup!

I found a great special the other day for leeks, that excellent vegetable so beloved of the Welsh.

I was inspired to make Potato Leek Soup.

Be sure to wash the grit out of the leeks.

I made a little bouquet garni from thyme and rosemary and added a bay leaf, which you will see below.

Start with butter.  If you want to have a bit more depth, use a little bacon, which you would remove.

That is handy also for starting risotto.

You can use olive oil if you want.  Remember, it’s soup.  Be flexible and find what works best for you and your tastes.

Chop your leeks and put them in the pan… I added a little onion I needed to use.

Don’t use too much of the green if you don’t want greenish soup.

Cut the potatoes into small pieces.  Even large pieces will cook, don’t worry.

In the meantime, your leeks are softening.  Move ’em around.

Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt.

Cover the veg with chicken broth and put in the herbs and the bay leaf.

If you want, you can use a long strip cut from a long leek leaf as a string for the bouquet garni.

I was too lazy and just rinsed of the twist tie.  Sometimes I use (unflavored) dental floss.

The idea is this: make it so that you can pull it out.  And be careful: when herbs like rosemary or sage hit liquid, they can take over.

Cook it down for a while.

Keep your heat low and stir it so that it doesn’t darken or burn.

At this point you can go in several directions. 

You can leave it sort of rustic and serve it like this.  In that case I would add some cream or milk to taste and consistency.

You can puree it.  I did.

Again, you can go with some cream.  I used a little reduction I made from sun-dried tomato and a touch of sour cream.

Add some "personality" through a tiny sprig of rosemary or little sticks cut from the leek.

Yummy stuff.  Super easy.  Very fast. Nearly impossible to screw up so long as you keep the heat low while reducing.

Don’t be afraid simply to make it without fussing over a recipe.  It’s soup.  Fool around with it.

You could pair this with a Chardonnay.

It’ll freeze, btw.

I’m off to lunch.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Quantum Potes says:

    Looks yummy! My absolute favorite cookbook is “12 Months of Monastery Soups” by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.

  2. leutgeb says:

    Ditto, yummy.

    The (unflavoured) dental floss detail was amusing too.

  3. AJP says:

    Yummy. Very similar to a recipe I make. I’ve always liked the recipe because
    the soup turns out very creamy once pureed, even if no milk or cream is added.
    My husband can’t eat most dairy, so many other yummy “cream of…” soups are
    off limits to us. I will have to try the sun dried tomato and bouquet garni
    next time. I usually just saute some garlic with the leeks at the beginning
    but have found that to be too bland for my tastes.

  4. Paul S. says:

    I love Fr. Z’s kitchen. Will now use up the leeks and red potatoes that are lying around my kitchen.
    You’re the best!

  5. joe says:

    Oh, and in the summer, this soup can be pureed (always best to puree when it’s hot, though), chilled and blended with cold cream (or half-and-half) and turned into Vichyssoise, which is VERY refreshing.

    That and a salad and you have a terrific, light summer lunch. (Not that many people north of Miami are thinking summery thoughts these days…)

  6. Augustine says:

    Oh dear Father. Purée is so démodée…

  7. Oh Father, that looks delicious.

    I use to eat potatoe leek soup when I lived in Herzegovina (1980-83). I miss it and have not been able to make it the same way. They did not use spices, but smoked pork rinds for a smokey flavor, and it was not pureed. But, I learned to love leeks anyway i can get them.

    Have you ever made a leek risoto? That is great too. They used the smoked pork to flavor that too, except when it was for Fridays.

    I’ve seen people try to clean leaks and it is…..interesting. Unlike green onions, they really harbor soil in between each layer and it is difficult to get out. I use to cut and clean leeks in large volumes when I lived there. We would cut them up so they could fall apart easily, then soak them in one giant tub. We would agitate them gently with our hands then let them sit a few minutes for the dirt to drop to the bottom (leeks float). We then scooped them out gently with our hands to another basin full of water and repeated this 3 times.

  8. BTW – I too cook soup when I’m home on cold, snow days and have a good pot of vegetable beef barely brewing.

  9. oops! I pulled a Dan Quayle with “Potatoe”

  10. It amazes me how few people will experiment, especially with soup. Just made vegetable beef soup for the family, why, had some carrots on the bottom of the fridge getting old, soooo, one bag carrots, one bag celery leafy tops and all, bunch of potatoes, (all this is what happened to be on the cupboard or in the fridge), three small onions, one can tomatoes, one can beef stock, one (2 pound pack), of our own organic hamburger, salt and pepper, water to cover and bring to a rocket hot boil, turn off heat and cover for several hours, reheat, dinner. And then my daughter wanted the recipe?, she still thinks I used one, good thing I watched my Mother cook

  11. Diane: I have made risotto with leeks, yes. Try it with beets sometime. It looks like steak tartare when you are done.

  12. David: You’ve got it! So easy. So efficient. Nothing needs to go to waste. In these coming hard times… learn to make soup!

  13. I forgot I thawed a piece of flounder and have to cook it now.

    I sure wish I could figure out how this restaurant made roasted red pepper sauce, with tapioca. I could really taste that red pepper flavor. When I look at all these recipes online, I just can’t find anything that seems like the right one.

    I’ve also got to use up some buttermilk about to expire. I think I’ll just whip up some lowfat roasted red pepper sauce out of that.

  14. Speaking of soup and hard economic times, I’ve been making some kind of thick soup and freezing single servings in baggies. I grab them on my way out the door to work. I set them on the desk and they are nearly completely thawed by lunch time. Since the heat has been turned down at work, homemade soup is just full of comforting warmth, and filling too.

    I was using smoked ham hocks, but switched to an ethnic smoked piece of pork I can get locally here in Detroit, called suvi vrat. It’s labeled shoulder in some places, but it looks like a loin or like canadian bacon (only much smokier) – good and lean. It pulls apart like butter in pea and bean soups.

    I hate to say it, but I was spending 5-7 bucks daily on lunch for years and recently took a close look at how much that was costing monthly. I now buy lunch only 2-3 times monthly when in a pinch. I get to the end of pay period and can’t believe how much more I can throw into savings (for sudden unemployment among other things).

  15. cordelia says:

    the cookbook mentioned by Quantam Potes is a gem and my favorite too.

  16. Karen says:

    I’m still working on the Colotura di Alici. You should get an agent and co-host with the Barefoot Contessa. You probably would have to rent a place in the Hamptons.

  17. Karen: Remember… it’s colatura di alici.

    You can click there for a link which will lead you to amazon and order it there. Great stuff! I think I’ll make a few strands now!

  18. “called suvi vrat”

    Sorry at first sight I thought it said SCURVY RAT,
    now that is just TOO much economizing ;>

    what ethnicity is it anyway, just curious

  19. Great post Father. A great reminder on the simplicity of soup.
    Noticed your pot there. I use enamel-covered cast iron on the stove almost exclusively now. Can’t be beat. And you can finish off food in the oven in it too.

    This week I made parsnips: Peel, chop, boil down in salted water, puree with butter and sour cream [or heavy cream] – I use the hand-held Bamix stick, very strong and versatile – then popped the pan in the oven. After roasting, the pureed parsnips come out fluffy, browned and sweet!

    After ‘testing’ [deeeelish] then I took em to a sick friend along with my homemade meatloaf and mushroom gravy.

    Beet risotto? How interesting. Have to think about that one. Roasted beets are fab!

    [Twitter: TinaHE]

  20. bernadette says:

    Just a warning! If you are prone to acid indigestion or GERD do not eat leeks! I can eat all kinds of onions, raw or cooked, but leeks just about killed me! :(

  21. Nan says:

    I don’t know suvi but vrat is door in Slovenian. I don’t see anything inherently Serb in the spelling of these words. Google translator from Serbian says dry neck.

  22. Nan,

    Yes. Suvi vrat would translate to “dry neck”, but I think it could also be close enough in the cut to be considered the shoulder which would make sense. All I know is that I traded in my ham hocks for this stuff because it si reasonably lean meat, with a little visible fat (resembling canadian bacon, if you will), with an intense smokey flavor.

    Here is the company that makes it – I found it online: European Smokehouse LLC

  23. Also, I think “vrata” is door. “Vrat” is neck.

  24. Nan says:

    Excuse me for not speaking for over 20 years.

  25. John Enright says:

    As I’ve said before, Father, you could write a very good – and successful – cookbook! Bravo!

  26. missalthumper says:

    Oh YUM!! Note: if I use bacon, I crumble it to pass at the table…

  27. Mary Conces says:

    You call that rustic? [Did you read the top entry?] Sounds elegant–and delicious–to me,but,then, I’ve never lived in Rome. My version, although based on a Julia Child recipe, is really rustic: Take approximately equal quantities of potatoes and leeks (maybe a little more of the latter.)Wash both thoroughly. Do not peel the potatoes, but do remove the eyes and any ugly parts. Slice both vegetatles thickly and put in a big enough pot. Cover well with good water. (I have to filter my slightly rusty well water.) Add enough salt and freshly ground black pepper (and maybe some red pepper flakes). Simmer until tender. Remove the larger pieces of peel and mash, or put through the large-holed blade(?) of a food mill. Or puree. Add a generous dollop of butter(essential)–either to the pot or to each bowl. Cream is good added to puree, but I usually don’t have any. Looks like nothing without a garnish. (Italian parsley is good, and simple.) Just close you eyes and enjoy.
    (Of course, lots of variations and additions are possible. It’s soup.)

  28. Jim Dorchak says:

    Fr Z do you have a recipie for goose?

    Just Goose breast.

    I have made the orage zest, butter, garlic, onion, balsamic, spices and brown sugar recipie. I wanted to know if you had another one that moderates the gamie taste?

    Jim Dorchak

  29. Jim: Not at hand, no. But I do goose with saurkraut when possible.

  30. Karen says:


    When I was typing Colatura di alici, I was debating whether it was an “o” or an “a”. Sorry, I opted for the “o”. Mea Culpa. I have two and 1/4 bottles of “colatura di alici”. When I made the recipe with pasta, I wasn’t sure about the peppers you used. Byerly’s had pickled pepperocini peppers, so that is what I used. It was OK, but I think I need to refine the recipe. I really need to know if I am making this dish for one person, or four people. I pour the “cda” on everything now. What peppers do you use. The pickled peppers were not hot. Thanks.

  31. Margaret says:

    Fr. Z, you inspired me. DH & I got out for a very rare “nice” restaurant dinner without the vanful of children along. Soup of the day was leek & potato. Normally I would have just gone with the basic garden salad instead, but I remembered how yummy this sounded in your post, so I tried it. Yummy! I’ll have to make this at home now. Thank you! :-)

  32. Claire Traas says:

    This recipe is not unlike the one I use all of the time–it is incredibly easy and I like using the hand blender too. It is so good my husband will eat it cold out of the fridge, and he is picky about his leftovers. The only thing about leeks is that they are expensive where we live. I wish I had a garden so I could grow my own.

  33. irishgirl says:

    Oooo, that looks good!

    Looking at that soup is making me hungry!

    Wow- you’re quite the cook, Father Z!

    (I’m from Utica, NY, BTW)

  34. opey124 says:

    We are trying this out today. Thanks for sharing this.

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