“Leeks cost more because fewer of them are grown and fewer of them are grown because there is less demand for them. And why is there less demand? Because despite their high price today, they have long been associated with and dismissed as the food of the poor and the powerless. In the seventeenth century, the gardener John Parkinson noted that leeks were the food of the impoverished in England and that leek pottage was ‘a great and general feeding in Wales for the vulgar [i.e., average] gentleman.’”
Ina Lipkowitz, Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language
“Samantha had already told him that the housekeeper took care of the laundry and she had asked him to provide a comprehensive list of his favorite foods. He did put leek and potato soup at the top of it. Samantha said her husband, Clarence, loved leek and potato soup himself, so they should all be very cozy together.”
Mary Breasted, Why Should You Doubt Me Now?
While leeks are now considered more of a gourmet vegetable, it’s interesting to note that they were once considered “the poor man’s asparagus.” Combined with potatoes in a filling, hearty soup, they provided sustenance for generations of working people.
Leek and potato soup is a simple dish—full of flavor, and easy to prepare. Opinions vary on whether dairy should be added, and if so, what kind (cream/sour cream/milk). Feel free to tinker with the ingredients to achieve the taste you desire, as long as you keep the main components: leeks, potato and stock. Garnish with a green herb (such as parsley or chives), and serve with a salad and crusty bread or Welsh Rarebit for a light meal or on its own as a starter.
Leek and Potato Soup
- 2 leeks chopped
- 2 large potatoes diced into small cubes
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 3 ½ cups of good quality chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup of heavy whipping cream
- Salt and Pepper
- Heat 2 Tbsp of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Add potatoes and stock to pan, raise the heat to high and bring to boil.
- Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer for 40 minutes.
- Salt and pepper to taste. You may not need salt depending on the stock used.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in remaining butter and cream.
- If you prefer a smoother soup, use a blender or immersion blender before serving.
Leeks must be well washed to remove soil and grit.