Leeks were one of the vegetables brought by the Normans and later the English when they came to Ireland in the 15th and 16th centuries. Probably only the somewhat better off would ever have had access to them and it is likely that plain potato soup was much more commonly eaten – but the version with leeks is so much tastier.
Somehow leeks and potatoes are a match made in heaven, and this delicious and hearty soup is just the thing on a cold winter’s evening: warming, satisfying and, when served with a good fresh bread, a meal in itself.
I should know – on this cold November day, after taking its photogrpah, I polished off the very steaming bowl of soup pictured here and am now sitting in a warm satisfied glow!
Here is how I made the soup.
- 4 medium potatoes, cut roughly into about 1″ chunks
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 large leeks (at least 1″ diameter. If smaller, use more)
- *I stick celery, sliced into small pieces (optional)
- *I large clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
- 4 cups (2 pints) stock
- Small knob of butter
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh parsley
*Neither of these are really traditional, but they do add something worthwhile to the flavour.
Cut the hard green part of the leeks off and discard. split the leeks lengthways and wash thoroughly in cold water to remove any grit. Drain and pat dry with a clean towel. Cut a piece about 2″ long from one leek and set this aside. Slice the rest of the leeks into pieces about 1″ thick.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium temperature and add the onions, leeks, celery, garlic and potato. Stir to coat the with the butter and ‘sweat’ them in the saucepan for about 5-7 minutes.
Pour the stock into the saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
Pour into a blender and zap until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the piece of reserved leek very thinly and add it with some roughly chopped parsley to the soup. Return to the heat to simmer for about 5-10 minutes before serving. I like to sprinkle a little (very untraditional!) paprika on top before serving.