Leeks are often known as the “soup onion” because of their mildness. They provide a perfect for complement to the more complex flavors of many dishes, such as soups, quiches, and gratins, without being overpowering. If you’ve never prepared leeks before, we have a few suggestions to make the process fast and easy. Because leeks, by nature, are layered vegetables that grows in the ground, they tend to collect dirt and grit that needs to be removed before being consumed. Here are a few tips to get them squeaky clean and ready to be cooked: Begin by chopping off the darker green leaves of the leek. While these sections can be used to flavor stocks, they are too tough to eat. Set the white and pale green portions aside. If using a recipe that only calls for the leeks to be halved, slice them in half lengthwise and hold each half under cold running water. Use your fingers to move the layers around a bit, allowing the water to move through them and flush out any grit. If using a recipe that calls for chopped leeks, halve them lengthwise, and then slice them up. Dunk them in a large bowl of cold water and use your hands to agitate them in the water so that any grit is dislodged. Pour into a strainer or colander to drain, and then rinse once more under cold running water to flush out any last bits of grit. Cook according to your recipe of choice and enjoy! *Image courtesy of: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_clean_leeks/.
This soup is a take on traditional Potato Leek Soup. I use ham stock instead of chicken, because it’s flavor complements the potatoes and cream so nicely. The buttermilk adds a tanginess that makes this soup stand out from other versions in complexity. For a vegetarian version, simply substitute vegetable stock in place of the meat stock. Potato Leek Soup By Holly Rodricks Makes 4-6 servings. Ingredients: 3 Leeks (white and pale green parts only), rinsed, halved, and sliced 3-4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter 2 large Potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced thinly 1 quart Ham Stock (Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock may be substituted.) 1 Bay Leaf 1/4 tsp. dried Lemon Thyme (Use regular Thyme, if Lemon is not available) 1/2 tsp. ground White Pepper 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg 1/2 cup Heavy Cream 1 cup Buttermilk Salt to taste Instructions: Melt Butter in skillet or large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add Leeks and caramelize, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until soft, sweet, and translucent. (The goal here is to cook over a low enough heat that the Leeks and Butter do not brown/discolor.) While Leeks are caramelizing, bring Stock to a boil in a large stock pot. Add sliced Potatoes, Bay Leaf, Thyme, White Pepper, and Nutmeg. Reduce heat to simmer. Add caramelized Leeks. Allow soup to simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender and falling apart when mixed. Remove soup from heat and Salt to taste. Add Cream and Buttermilk. Use immersion blender to mix and liquefy. Serve hot with a fresh crust of buttered bread.