A Little Leek Love
Known best in French cooking, leeks are often overlooked in our home gardens. Leek Potato Soup, or vichyssoise, is a cold soup that every French chef has mastered. I use leeks in potato leek soup, three onion pie, and vegetable soup.
Leeks are expensive at the grocery store but you can grow them for pennies. They take up little space, have very few pest or disease problems and can be grown in containers.
Grow leeks from seed or starts. It will probably be your first late-winter or early spring crop. Onions, leeks, garlic can take a late snow or freeze.
Tender young leeks can be used as scallions or green onions.
Plant starts deep er than onions. The deeper, the better able to retain moisture. Select well worked soil with plenty of organic matter.
As leeks grow, continue to mound soil over the stems to blanch them, creating more of the white, tender part of leek. Consistent moisture will encourage tender leeks. Thin leeks to grow six inches apart.
Grow vegetables – Make Soup
Grow your own soup. Garden fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and cost very little to make. If you don’t think you have time to make soup, make a double batch and freeze half for a busy day. Make soup in the crock pot. Soup usually tastes even better the next day. What could be faster than that?
Chili, chicken and noodle soup, vegetable soup and stews of any kind are better and usually have less salt when made from scratch. I love soup and will be sharing some soup gardening and soup making tips from time to time.
Potato Leek Soup
Jazz up your favorite potato or cauliflower soup recipe by adding leeks.
Potato soup is a winter time favorite of mine. The leeks in the garden will continue to grow and I will pull them as I need them for Potato Leek soup. Simply add leeks or replace the onions in your favorite potato soup recipe.
I make this big batch because this soup is even better the next day. You can make half this recipe, but I bet you will wish you made more.
Basic Potato Soup
Makes about 8 servings (about 2 quarts).
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- water to cover
- 6 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped OR, chop 2 or 3 leeks
- 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- nutmeg to garnish
In a large sauce pot, cover chopped potatoes and carrots with water. Cook in water until fork tender.
Drain and set aside carrots and potatoes, reserving cooking water.
In a Dutch oven, while potatoes are cooking, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Sprinkle in flour.
Slowly add milk. Bring to gentle boil, stirring until thickened. Add carrots and potatoes, salt and pepper. Gradually add cooking water until the soup in the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings. For smoother soup, use a potato masher or stick blender. This will thicken the soup and create a smoother texture. Add additional cooking water or milk to taste.
Grate a little nutmeg to garnish soup.
Top your soup as you would a loaded baked potato, crispy bacon, grated cheddar cheese, green onions, a dollop of sour cream or a pat of butter.
Bake: Use baked potatoes instead of boiling potatoes.
Veggies: Add a cup of frozen or fresh vegetables in the last few minutes of cooking to thoroughly heat through all ingredients. Try green peas, chopped kale, corn
Meat: Plan on adding a half a strip of crumbled bacon on top of soup. Use crumbled chorizo or Italian sausage
Herbs: Stir in chopped parsley, celery leaves, chives or thyme.
Enrich: texture and flavor with 4 ounces of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, cream, butter. Add a little at a time.
If you do not like onions, try leeks. They are milder and easier to digest. These mild alliums are beneficial for cardiovascular and digestive health. Research points to leek’s potential to fight cancer.