Leek and potato soup

Photo by Edward Pond

Cream of Watercress variation


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Leek & Potato Soup


This soup is a delicious classic, open to endless variation. Serve it country-style chunky, or purée and enrich with cream for a more refined dish. Use the leek-potato base and add other vegetables to make soups of your favourite flavours.

  • Serves: 6
  • Course: Dinner


  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) butter
  • 3 cups (750 ml) chopped leeks, white and tender green parts only (about 4 leeks)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb (750 ml) russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher or sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups (375 ml) half-and-half cream or milk
  • ½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream (optional)
  • White pepper
  • Blanched green leek slivers for garnish (optional) (see Tips, below)


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and onion and cook gently, covered, until soft, 7–10 minutes. Add potatoes and stir for 1–2 minutes more. Do not allow to brown.
  2. Add stock or water, and salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. In a blender or food processor, purée soup in batches until smooth.
  4. Return to pot, stir in half-and-half or milk, and bring just to the boiling point over low heat, stirring frequently. Enrich with whipping cream, if you like. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot in warm bowls, garnished with green leek slivers (see Tips below).
  5. Tips
  6. - For a garnish, cut the tender green top of a leek lengthwise into slivers. Blanch for one minute and drain. Leek slivers are also good deep-fried until crisp. z For extra-smooth texture, force puréed soup through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing down on the vegetable solids. Discard the vegetable solids. Served hot, it’s a French standard. Served cold, garnished with chives, it’s what’s thought to be an American invention with a French name: vichyssoise.

    - Be creative and try other vegetables, such as squash, fennel, or roasted and skinned red pepper. Add a little curry powder when sautéing the vegetables, a tablespoon (15 ml) of grated fresh ginger to parsnips, or a dash of nutmeg to broccoli. Parsley, tarragon, or chives liven up celery root; thyme enhances parsnips. To garnish a smooth cream soup, finely dice a few tablespoons of the added vegetable and sauté in butter with flavouring herbs.

  7. Variations:
  8. - Leek and Potato Soup with Stilton
  9. Garnish with crumbled Stilton cheese.
  10. - Country-Style Leek and Potato Soup
  11. Proceed as above, puréeing only half the cooked leek-potato mixture. Return to the pot with the rest of the soup. Heat until steaming. Enrich with cream, if you like.
  12. - Cream of Watercress or Spinach Soup
  13. Reduce the leeks to 1 cup (250 ml). Add about 4 cups (1 L) watercress leaves or fresh spinach when the potatoes are almost tender and cook all together for about 5 minutes. Proceed as above.
  14. - Sweet Potato Soup
  15. Reduce the leeks to 1 cup (250 ml). Replace potatoes with 2 sweet potatoes and 1 carrot, peeled and chopped. Add a garlic clove, if you like.
  16. - Cream Soups
  17. Reduce the leeks to 1 cup (250 ml). Add 2 cups (500 ml) chopped cauliflower, broccoli, celery root, or parsnip with the potatoes in Step 1.

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Jane Rodmell