I turned on the news this morning and found out that Spring is about to officially begin! But rather than jump into the spring recipes, I’m going to help you savor these last couple days of winter by providing the the ultimate comforting soup recipe: a thick and hearty potato leek soup.
Over the years, I have made and shared this particular recipe more than any other. So, of course, friends and family have been asking why I’ve never posted it on Pinch My Salt. That’s a very good question. The answer is simple: this is my mom’s soup.
What does that mean? Well, it’s just hard to write about a recipe that is so intertwined with memories of the person who meant the most to me and who isn’t here to make it anymore. I can make the soup, eat the soup, share the soup, but just haven’t quite been able to write about it without the waterworks starting up.
But hearty soup season is almost over so I got out the box of tissue, pulled out the 15-year-old recipe card, and I’m here to share the easy but wonderful potato leek soup recipe that has the power to transport me back to my childhood with just one bite.
K’s Potato Leek Soup
3 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced*
1 medium or large onion, chopped
6 – 8 russet potatoes, thinly sliced**
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
1 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1) Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat then add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring, until onions are limp and just slightly brown.
2) Add sliced potatoes to saucepan then pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat and stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent scorching on the bottom.
3) Add one cup of heavy cream (or more if you desire) and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and serve.
Notes: *Make sure to clean leeks thoroughly and slice only the white and light green part of the leeks. **You don’t need to peel the potatoes as the peels add to the rustic texture of the soup. But make sure to scrub them thoroughly and remove any obvious blemishes before slicing. Although we always make it with chicken broth, this can easily become a vegetarian soup by simply using vegetable broth instead.
And here’s a quick photo tutorial to show you how easy it is to make!
First of all, I’ll let you in on a little secret. For years I always sliced my potatoes by hand until I realized that my new food processor has a large enough feed tube to fit one or two whole potatoes at a time! Now I always slice my potatoes in my Cuisinart food processor using the slicing blade. If you have one that will work, great! If not, just slice them by hand using a sharp knife to about 1/4 inch thick. It really doesn’t take as long as you think!
Start the soup by sauteeing the leeks and onions in butter until they are limp and just starting to brown.
Next, add all of the potatoes that you worked so hard to slice (unless you’re a cheater like me).
After adding potatoes, pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover them. The amount you use depends on the size and amount of potatoes you sliced. Two 14 oz. cans of broth is average but use more if you need it.
As you can see the level of liquid is just even with the potatoes. If I push down on the potatoes with the masher, they will be completely submerged. This amount of liquid results in a very thick soup. The soup can always be thinned at the end with some extra broth if desired.
It doesn’t take long for the potatoes to cook and you can probably start mashing within 10 minutes or so. The amount of mashing you do is entirely up to you. If you like chunkier soups, leave the potatoes a bit chunky. If you want a smooth soup, mash for a longer time. If you prefer a completely smooth soup, peel the potatoes before slicing and puree soup with a hand blender. I’ve never done this but I’m sure it would work.
When the soup has reached your desired consistency, add some heavy cream. The original recipe says 1 – 2 cup of cream but I never use more than one cup. I think you lose a lot of flavor by adding more cream. But, again, it’s up to you. Make sure to season well with salt and pepper after stirring in the cream.
This is what my soup looks like when it’s ready to eat. As you can see, I like a slightly chunky consistency but no large pieces of potato.