Potato And Leek Soup

 

Potato and leek soup is a traditional Irish, wintertime, comfort food.  Served with buttered, brown soda bread, it is a delicious warm treat on a cold winter’s day.

Some call it leek and potato soup, while others give the potatoes precedence when naming.  I had to go with the name potato and leek soup, since I think this is one of the very best potato soup recipes there is.

Ingredients For Potato And Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 to 1 and 1/4 pounds of potatoes (3 medium)
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 oz butter
  • 2 thyme sprigs (fresh)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Optional

  • 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped chives (to garnish)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon bacon bits (to garnish)

I included bacon and chives in the ingredient picture above, but these are completely optional and used only for garnish.  This soup can be vegetarian if vegetable broth is used.

Let’s begin by preparing the leeks.  Since these vegetable grow upwards through sandy soil, leek leaves can be full of grit and dirt.  Cleaning the leeks is extremely important if you don’t want gritty soup.  We could give a whole new meaning to the southern term ‘grits’ by not washing the leeks well.

Chop the top and the bottoms off the leeks.

Here is a picture of the leeks I used.  Look how much dirt was between the top two layers.

Cut the leeks in half, then chop each half into semicircles about 1/4 inch thick.

Fill a big bowl with water and toss in the leeks.  Use your fingers to separate the layers of each leek slice. Keep parting the layers with your fingers and stirring the pieces in the water.  Let the leeks stand in the water for about 5 minutes.  The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.

To drain the leeks lift them into a colander with your fingers.  Do not pour the leeks and water into the colander since the settled dirt at the bottom of the bowl will just pour right over and redirty the leeks.  Run some clean water over the leeks in the colander to get rid of any dirt that might still be lingering.

Once drained, dry the leeks with some paper towels.  They should be ready for cooking by now.

Dice the potatoes.

Chop the onion.  Don’t worry about getting the onion too small since the soup will be pureed after cooking.

Now we are ready to cook.  Melt the butter in the bottom of a large soup pot.  I like to use butter rather than oil, since it adds nice flavor and coats the vegetables well for cooking.  Butter is more authentically Irish anyway.

Add the chopped leeks and potato to the pot.  Stir well to coat. Turn the heat down to low.

Toss in the onion and mix well together.

Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to cook slowly, by ‘sweating’ for 15 minutes.  Every 3 minutes remove the lid and stir the vegetables to prevent sticking.

When the vegetables are beginning to soften, add the vegetable broth.  You can use all vegetable broth, or use 2 cups of water and 2 cups of broth.  Chicken stock can also be used if you are not concerned about keeping the soup totally vegetarian.

Next add a the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  These will be removed at the end of cooking.

Season the soup with white pepper.  Black pepper will leave little specks in the soup when it is pureed, so white works much better.  The flavor of white pepper is more traditionally Irish also.  Growing up in Ireland, we always kept white pepper in our pepper shaker for the kitchen table, not the typical black pepper of America.

Add salt if desired.  I forgot to add salt in my ingredient picture above.  I find store bought stocks are quite salty to begin with so I sometimes skip adding salt.

Turn up the heat to bring the soup to simmering point.  Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat to low and let it cook for another 20 to 25 minutes.  Once cooked, remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

Puree the soup using an immersion blender.  If you don’t have one of these the soup can be transferred in batches to a blender, then pureed.  Return the soup to the pot once it is smooth.

Add the heavy whipping cream and stir into the soup.  I use a half cup, but if you really like creamy soup, use up to 1 cup of cream.

Serve warm garnished with chopped chives and bacon bits if desired.  Irish brown bread is a perfect accompaniment to this creamy potato soup with a delicate onion flavor.

Here is the printable recipe:

Potato And Leek Soup

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Meal type Soup
Region Irish
Potato and leek soup is a traditional Irish, wintertime, comfort food. Served with buttered, brown soda bread, it is a delicious warm treat on a cold winter’s day.

Ingredients

  • 2 Large leeks
  • 1 to 1 and 1/4lb potatoes (3 medium)
  • 1/2 Large onion
  • 1oz butter
  • 2 thyme sprigs (fresh)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Optional

  • 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped chives (to garnish)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon bacon bits (to garnish)

Directions

Step 1 Chop the leeks. Wash them in a bowl of water, allowing the grit to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Lift the sliced leeks into a colander to drain. Rinse well and pat dry before using.
Step 2 Dice the potatoes and onion.
Step 3 Melt the butter in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the leeks, potatoes and onions, stirring to coat them in melted butter. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to 'sweat' for 15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes to prevent burning.
Step 4 Add the vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper.
Step 5 Turn up the heat and bring to simmering point. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Step 6 Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender or in batches using a food processor or blender.
Step 7 Add the heavy whipping cream and stir into the soup. I use a half cup, but if you really like creamy soup, use up to 1 cup of cream.
Step 8 Serve hot in soup bowls. Garnish with bacon bits and chives if desired.

Wishing you all happy soup making.

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

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Comments

  1. So glad to find your site! Our family came over to Canada from Ireland on my mother’s side in the late 1850′s. My father’s father was of Irish heritage, but was raised in England. I will enjoy trying out your recipes and reading your blogs!
    Happy New Year!

    • Kathleen – So glad you found my site. I hope you enjoy my ramblings about Ireland and my new life in America. Do stop by whenever you get a chance. I have many more stories and recipes to share over the coming weeks, months and years.
      Best wishes for 2013.
      Mairead

  2. Tom McCarthy says:

    The potato/leek soup came out just grand. This is the recipe I will be recommending to people.

  3. Stephanie says:

    The only potato/leek soup I’ll ever make again. So very good on a cold day in VA.

  4. Diana Church says:

    After receiving 10″ of snow, I began to crave a bowl of this soup. It was delicious and the family loved it. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to make your brown bread to go with the soup. That is my goal for tomorrow, as we have plenty of soup remaining since I made a double batch. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

    • Diana – Thanks for letting me know your family approved of this recipe. Hope they enjoy the brown bread too. We had soup and brown bread tonight as well – just a perfect meal for a cold night.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  5. Simple, beautiful, fast and full of flavor. Love this soup!

  6. This soup is fantastic! (I visited Ireland two years ago and fell in love with potato leek soup there. This takes me back…)

  7. Valerie Kelly says:

    My husband and I just went to Ireland on our honeymoon and fell inlove with the food, and one of the thing we loved the most was their soup. So I was looking for an authentic soup recipe to make since we kinda got a little sick, since our floridian body weren’t use to the cold . My husband said it tasted just like the ones we had over there and it made him feel like we can have a little ireland back home with us. I had brought back some of the odlum brown bread mix which went perfectly with the soup. thank you so much for sharing. Cant wait to try some of your other recipes.

    • Valerie – I’m so glad to hear my recipes bring back memories of your honeymoon in Ireland. It’s good to know that Irish soup and brown bread will always be considered romantic menu items in your house. I’m happy you found my site and I hope you enjoy some more tastes of Ireland through my recipe posts.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  8. Colleen says:

    Hello M, just returned from a lovely Westport summer vacation and really missed the foods that got me through some health issues while there and since. The most well received item was the potato leak soup and this recipe is perfect! Thank you for sharing this and I plan on making the stew as soon as fall arrives. I missed a side trip to Sligo, so I like your photo from your trip. I am always hoping to find a good Irish veg soup recipe, so if you know of one as good as your potato leak — please share!

    Cheers!

    • Hi Colleen – I’m so happy to hear you had a lovely time on your trip to County Mayo this summer and I’m glad my soup recipe helped stir tasty memories of Ireland’s cuisine for you. I do have a recipe for a delicious cream of vegetable soup. Once the weather gets a little cooler I’ll make it and photograph the process to share with everyone in the fall.
      Thanks so much for stopping by,
      Mairéad

  9. sandy griffith says:

    Wow…thank you!! I just made this soup, fantastically yummy.

  10. Siobhan Sheehan says:

    Waiting on a big storm to hit NY- decided we needed a cozy dinner. This Potato & Leek Soup fit the bill ! Everyone LOVED it. I even tweeked it a bit so my dairy allergic kiddo could enjoy ( his portion had no cream). I will DEF make this again. Thank you ! Slainte !

    • Siobhan – I’m so glad your family enjoyed this soup and that you were able to adapt it for your little one with allergies. Best wishes and thanks for taking the time to comment with your seal of approval for this recipe.
      Mairead

  11. Therese McAllister says:

    Cooking this soup today and the house smells great. I like your blog. My daughter is Mairead born in Boston but raised in Ireland in the 90′s back to states for high school. No one can say her name properly so I laughed when I read “about me”. She always says it rhymes with parade!
    Soups ready….bye

  12. Leslie Browning says:

    Love the potato and leek soup. I had this soup for the first time in Washington DC. There is a place there called the ” IRISH CHANNEL PUB”. They put creme fraiche on top. Your recipe is easy and delicious. My husband said I need to do a double batch. Thank you.

  13. Lili Harris says:

    I found your site a couple of days ago and have today made the Potato and Leek Soup for the first time and the Irish Brown Bread to go with it, it is so delicious we can’t stop eating it and the bread. Thank you for sharing these lovely recipes. Will make it again when the whole family is over next and will recommend this soup to everyone I know! Delicious. Many thanks.

  14. This will be the second year of making your delicious soup! It’s actually very easy and your step by step and visual instructions are fantastic. It was a hit last year at my St. Pat’s party and gave an additional vegetarian menu item to guests. I emailed it to my sister who is at school in Limerick, Ireland…she was very jealous! Thank you.

  15. This recipe looks and sounds delicious! Of course, if you don’t have time for cooking such a fantastic soup, you can always buy Irish potato soup from http://www.DolmenCounty.com

  16. David C says:

    I made my first trip to Ireland 2 years ago in the winter and was able to take my wife this past year. There is nothing finer in the winter and to ease the pain on the wallet than a nice hearty soup with bread. My wife fell in love with potato and leek soup there and has been pestering me to make it. She was quite pleased with your recipe, I enjoyed it very much as well. I think it’s time to invest in an immersion blender for our household. My only question is what temperature do you have the stove top set to when adding the butter and then when “sweating” for 15 min? Mine was pretty much on low the whole time as I thought I read but wasn’t softening things too much. Overall I wanted to thank you for this recipe and it was fantastic.

    • David – I’m delighted to hear you and your wife enjoyed potato and leek soup in Ireland. When melting the butter I put the ring on a medium heat, and then turn it down to low to sweat the vegetables. I cook on a gas stove, so it heats up very quickly. If you are using an electric stove top you may have to use a medium heat to get the leeks to ‘sweat’. I would recommend adjusting the temperature up a little to make sure there is plenty of heat under that saucepan lid, to get the vegetables to soften. Every stovetop can be a little different.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your lovely feedback about my recipe.
      Best wishes,
      Mairéad

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  1. [...] like to get a recipe for a great Irish potato and leek soup try Mairead’s recipe over at Irishamericanmom.com, or , or leave a comment and tell your story. This entry was posted in Irish food and tagged [...]

  2. [...] Recipe and Photo credit via irishamericanmom.com [...]

  3. […] Irish American Mom Mairead, at Irish American Mom, always throws up some of the best Irish recipes on the web. And I know you’re going to enjoy how they’re presented in photos and with a little bit of story telling. For starters, try out this Potato and Leek Soup recipe. […]

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