Potato Leek Soup

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It rained, sleeted and snowed all day last Saturday, and I loved it every minute of it. The kids stayed in their pajamas and watched movies all day, my husband made a roaring fire (and filled our house with smoke, but that’s another story) and I made a big pot of Potato Leek Soup. What better way to spend a blustery October day?


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Potato Leek Soup, or Potage Parmentier, is a French classic. It’s one of the first dishes I learned to make in culinary school, right after a proper omelet, because it’s an essential base soup in French cuisine. Add watercress for Watercress Soup, serve it chilled for Vichyssoise, or top it with bacon, fried leeks, fresh herbs or diced vegetables. There are endless variations — use your imagination (or any leftover vegetables) to make it your own.

It’s very simple to make, but first you have to deal with the leeks. They’re notoriously sandy and dirty (and very good at hiding it), so be sure to wash them well. Start by cutting off and discarding the root ends and thick dark green parts.

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Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse each half under cold water, pulling apart the layers to remove any grit that’s tucked inside.

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To make the soup, melt the butter in a large soup pot, then add the chopped leeks and garlic and cook until soft and wilted. They’ll start off looking like this…

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And end up looking like this…

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Next, add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

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Purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until smooth.

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Finally, add the heavy cream. You can reduce the amount if you’d like but I wouldn’t leave it out completely. Cream makes the soup wonderfully silky, rich and smooth. Just add it little by little until the soup tastes good to you.

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Bring to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with fresh thyme, chives or anything you like.

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Potato Leek Soup
Printable Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock (best quality such as Swanson organic)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus more for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
Chives, finely chopped (optional)

Directions

1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary so as not to brown.

2. Add potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are very soft.

3. Fish out the thyme sprig and bay leaves, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, use a standard blender to puree the soup in batches.)* Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.

*If using a standard blender to puree the soup: be sure not to fill the jar more than halfway; leave the hole in the lid open and cover loosely with a dishtowel to allow the heat to escape; and pour blended soup into a clean pot.

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  • This looks heavenly! I love potato soup :)

  • I adore this soup. I first learned to make it by watching Juila Child. I’d forgotten about it through the summer. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Ellen

    My daughter is home for Thanksgiving and has requested Potato Leek soup to take back to VA. I’m going to make this on Saturday so she can have it for dinner on Sunday when she gets back to VA. I enjoy your blog very much. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  • Ellen

    Just an update. I made this soup when my daughter came home for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit. Best potato soup I ever made. She took the remainder home with her. This one is a keeper!

  • Kim

    You listed chicken stock in the recipe, but the picture shown is chicken broth. Which should it be or doesn’t it make a difference?

  • Either one is fine, Kim :)

  • Kim

    Well, I made this soup tonight (with chicken broth) and my husband loved it! He added bacon bits and a little more black pepper and ate it as a meal. Thank you so much!!

  • Sri

    I had added this to my soup list when you first posted this. Today was the perfect chilly, rainy day for soup. Made this and it is as awesome as it looks in those pictures! Love all the vegetarian recipes that you post :).

  • Lorraine

    I love soups and can’t wait to try this one :o)

  • Rachel

    This traditional soup is one of my all time favorites. I had always used the recipe in my joy of cooking, but since I love your recipes so much, I decided to try this one out. I think the thyme really gave it what it needed.

  • Donna

    This is now my default recipe for potato soup. My husband said I should make this at least every few weeks. We all love it.

  • Cynthia

    When there are so many recipes out there for a particular dish, I love finding one that stands out as simple and delicious. This will now be my go-to for this soup (and is the primary reason why I’m now looking for a great immersion blender for my kitchen!).

  • Claudia

    I can’t believe I haven’t made this yet, but I have to say that leek is my favorite vegetable! And leek soup is one of the best!

  • Heidi

    Hello. I followed this recipe exactly and it is sooooo good – light, yet hearty and satisfying. We sprinkled Parmesan/Romano cheese on top to add a little subtle salty, tangy taste. My husband and daughter had 3 bowls each. Now I have to try some of your desserts. Thanks for inspiring me to get excited about cooking!!! =)

  • CareyS

    This recipe is perfection. It is sooo reliable and so good. I started adding a dash of truffle oil to it and it took to to the next level – amazing! Highly recommend! We eat this as a main with a crusty bread and love it!

  • Liz

    I love potato leek soup, I’m in heaven!!!!
    I just add a bit of crispy bacon and some shredded cheese to top it off. So good.

  • Making this tonight!! Found you on Pinterest :) Thanks for the recipe!!!!

  • Theresa

    Great soup, made it over the THanksgiving holiday. My sister is lactose intolerant so I left out the heavy cream at the end, everybody loved it. Thanks so much

  • Marcella

    I was looking to jazz up the way I make potato leek soup and I stumbled onto your bolg and onto this soup. It was fantastic! Great recipe!

  • keith

    Do pre-cooking the leeks give the soup more flavor than just cooking them with the potatoes?

    • Jenn

      Hi Keith, I always cook my onions or leeks in butter before adding the other ingredients. It helps them mellow out and develop nice flavor.

  • Wendy L.

    I participate in a food coop – bountifulbaskets.org – and I just happened to get potatoes and leeks this week. I made this soup with your cornbread, and it was fantastic. I like chunky soups, so I didn’t puree it; and it tasted absolutely wonderful. Thank you for all of your fabulous recipes, Jenn. I brag about you all the time — how you’ve turned me into such an amazing cook/baker. Couldn’t have done it without you!! :)

    • Jenn

      Thank you, Wendy! So nice to hear!

  • Ashley N

    I live in southern California where it’s a rare occasion if it rains. However; when it does I make this! I actually made this dish this past Thursday and I served it with turkey/pesto panini’s. Kids LOVED. The only thing I changed is the salt and pepper amount. Kids like or more hearty!

  • Doreen

    My daughter, who is a vegetarian, loves this soup. I first learned to make this soup from “The vegetarian 5 ingredient gourmet” by Nava Atlas. My daughter requests this soup all the time, I just delighted to try different way to enhance this soup and it turned that she love love it so….much. Thank you so much for your guidance..

  • kelly almasy

    My sons favorite. Although at the end i add back some diced potatoes to make it a little more substantial for him. Perfection!

  • Jean

    This is excellent, and adaptable to have-in-the-garden accents. I originally made this on our first crisp day while our parsley was still lovely — it was substituted for the chives. Simple, delicious, and great for leftovers.

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