I’ve tried cooking a few different versions of this classic soup. Tarting it up with chicken stock, garlic, too much butter. It didn’t work.
But going back to the original recipe of softly sweated leeks, good spuds and a knob of butter combined to let the fragrance of the leeks and the full potato flavour come through.
Tip: leave the skin on when you cook the potatoes. This might not look the nicest in the finished soup, but the skin is where all the flavour is. If you’re fussy, you can cut your potatoes into larger pieces and fish out the skins later.
3 large leeks
3-4 big potatoes. I like pink skinned varieties like Desiree or Red Rascal.
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Trim the leeks and cut lengthways. Rinse under cold water or soak in a bowl of water for a few minutes to get all the grit out.
Slice leeks thinly. Chop potatoes roughly. Don’t peel them.
Fry the leeks in the butter until soft, adding salt to the leeks to help them break down.
Add the potatoes and enough cold water to cover.
Cook until the potatoes are just soft through, around 20 minutes. Don’t overcook as the potatoes can go gluey (if you’ve done this before you’ll know what I mean – the soup becomes almost wallpaper-pasteish).
Season generously with salt and pepper. Julia Child recommends 1 tablespoon of salt. You will need this much, as potatoes absorb salt and your soup will be a bit bland without it.
You can now choose to blitz the soup with a blender for a smooth consistency, or mash it with a potato masher for a more rustic style.
Add a little butter to finish it, and if you like, some cream. Snip over some soft herbs if you have them – chives, parsley, chervil.
Enjoy with some good bread and butter.