A bowl of potato leek soup.

Nearly every time I pick up the weekly farmshare, I am reminded of the saying, “What grows together, goes together.”

At the height of the summer, each produce box looks designed to make ratatouille. When the basil is exploding, so are the tomatoes, giving us no reason not to make Caprese salads every night for dinner. When the cilantro is abounding, so are the chilies, leaving us no choice but to make large vats of pico de gallo and sit around the bowl with a heap of chips. There’s a reason the hardy herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme pair so well with the hardy squashes, potatoes, and root vegetables of all kinds.

The past few weeks, potatoes and leeks have been snuggling in the produce share, and though I often separate the two — leeks go into this pasta carbonara, potatoes become oven fries — it was time to unite them. I would be lying, too, if I didn’t admit the influence of one of you (hey, Kathleen 👋 ), who emailed me last weekend with questions about focaccia but also to say: “I was looking for a potato leek soup recipe (CSA this week) & was shocked one did not exist on your site!”

That IS shocking.

I referenced a few recipes from a few favorite old books (Love Soup and A New Way to Cook) and decided to keep it very simple: sweat leeks covered for about 10 minutes until they begin to melt, add peeled and diced potatoes along with vegetable stock, simmer till the potatoes collapse, purée until smooth, add a splash of cream, and crack lots of fresh pepper over top.

Because it is such a simple soup, its success lies in the details. If you are up for it, I encourage you to make the vegetable stock from scratch, which requires all of about 5 minutes of hands-on work. It simmers for 45 minutes, and when it’s done, you’ll have two quarts of highly seasoned earthy liquid to use in any soup, stew, or risotto your heart desires.

Also, because this is a puréed soup (i.e. it will lack textural variety), it’s nice to serve it with some sort of garnish. Here I’ve toasted fresh bread crumbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil; then mixed them with fresh chives and lemon zest. It’s a simple but very tasty touch — I like eating my soup with a spoonful of the crumbs in every bite.

Of course, a slice of toasty bread for dunking will do.

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How to Make Potato-Leek Soup

Gather your ingredients:

Leeks and potatoes on a board.

Slice the leeks and soak them:

A large bowl of leeks soaking in water.

Drain them by scooping them out:

Leeks in a sieve over a large glass bowl.

Sauté them in a few tablespoons of olive oil:

Leeks in a large soup pot beginning to sauté.

After 10 minutes covered, they’ll look like this:

Leeks cooked down in a large soup pot.

Peel and dice two pounds of potatoes:

Peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes on a board.

Add them to the pot along with…

A large soup pot holding leeks and potatoes.

… vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water:

A large pot holding potatoes, leeks, vegetable stock, and pepper, ready to be simmered.

Bring it to a simmer:

A large soup pot holding potatoes, leeks, and vegetable stock simmering stovetop.

Then simmer till the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

A large soup pot holding potato leek soup, ready to be puréed.

Purée until smooth; then add a little bit of cream…

A large pot of potato leek soup being puréed with an immersion blender.

… and return to the stovetop to simmer for a few minutes more:

Puréed potato leek soup stovetop.

To serve, toast up some bread or make some toasty, herby bread crumbs: purée some stale bread in the food processor and chop up some chives or parsley.

Chopped chives on a cutting board.

Toast the bread crumbs stovetop in a few tablespoons of olive oil:

A skillet holding bread crumbs on the stovetop.

Then add the herbs and lemon zest:

A large skillet holding bread crumbs, chives and lemon zest.
A large skillet holding gremolata bread crumbs.
A bowl of potato leek soup.
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A bowl of potato leek soup.

Simple Potato-Leek Soup


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

This is very simple, but very tasty recipe for classic potato-leek soup. Because it is such a simple recipe, its success lies in the details. If you are up for it, I encourage you to make the vegetable stock from scratch, which requires all of about 5 minutes of hands-on work. I used to make homemade chicken stock for nearly every soup I made, but now, more often than not, I use vegetable stock, which is just as tasty and takes a fraction of the time. If you don’t have time to make vegetable or chicken stock, I would use water, and if you have a bay leaf on hand, add it to the pot along with the water. 


Ingredients

For the soup: 

  • 4 leeks, thinly sliced, to yield 4 to 6 cups
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. Potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or whatever variety you have on hand, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water, see notes above
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream

For the herby bread crumbs (optional):

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • Pinch sea salt
  • A few tablespoons of minced chives or parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Place the leeks in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow any dirt to settle. After the 5-10 minutes, scoop the leeks from the bowl of water and transfer them to a sieve. The leeks do not need to be completely dry. 
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil with the leeks over high heat. Add a pinch of salt. When you hear the leeks begin to sizzle, give them a stir, cover the pot, and immediately turn the heat to low. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, allowing any water trapped in the lid to drip back down into the pot. Give the leeks a stir. 
  3. Add the potatoes and enough of the stock to cover the potatoes completely. Crack pepper over top. Season with a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook at a gentle simmer until the potatoes are knife tender and beginning to fall apart, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add more stock or water as needed if the liquid level reduces too much. 
  4. When the potatoes are done, use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth or transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth — if using a blender, be sure to allow the soup to cool somewhat before blending to avoid exploding lids. Add water or more stock as needed to thin the soup to the right consistency. 
  5. Return the soup to the pot and add the cream. Stir to combine. Again, if the soup is too thick, add water or stock until it is the right consistency. Simmer for just a few minutes more. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper to taste. To serve ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle some of the herby bread crumbs over top (see below). 
  6. To make the bread crumbs: In a large skillet, toast the bread crumbs with the olive oil and a pinch of salt over medium heat stirring frequently, until the crumbs are evenly golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste the crumbs for seasoning. Add more salt if you wish and pepper to taste. Add the herbs and the lemon zest, if using, and stir to combine. Toast for another minute; then remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Yukon golds, leeks, vegetable stock, pepper