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Potato & Leek Soup

What is the secret to a creamy & flavorsome Potato & Leek soup?

I tested a recipe which consisted of just butter, salt, pepper, potato, leek & whole milk
It had very little flavour so I added 1 clove garlic, 2 tsps chicken stock, 1/3 cup cream. It was not bad but not fantastic.

Any tips?

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  1. I would saute an onion and a shallot and puree them into the soup for more onion flavor, plus I'd probably add some thyme and maybe a little white wine for balance. Are you looking to adapt that recipe or find a new one entirely?

    1 Reply
    1. re: biondanonima

      I think I would look at an entirely new recipe, pureed onion and shallot may work well. And, yes, I agree the milk did dull the flavour. Sour cream (as suggested on the recipe link) sounds interesting... may try a few variations but am looking at perfecting the recipe.
      I was hoping to serve it with shaved trufflle on top but unsure whether the dish is "worthy of truffle" hmmmm

      1. Bag the whole milk, use 4 cups of chicken stock, puree or blend until smooth, then add a couple of tbsp of cream. Too much milk dulled the flavor, those leeks & potatoes are actually delicately flavored.

        1. I like Dorie Greenspan Leek and Potato soup the best (from her Around My French Table book). She uses a combination of chicken stock and milk and a provides directions to make it smooth, chunky, hot or cold.

          1 Reply
          1. re: herby

            Here is a link to the Dorie Greenspan recipe: http://simplegoodandtasty.com/2011/04...

            It does look good, although I agree with Phurstluv that a lot of milk will dull the flavor - I would probably use more chicken stock and add cream at the end as well. I think it would be delicious with truffles shaved on top, as long as you find just the right recipe for the soup first!

          2. The recipe called for milk but no stock? No wonder it was bland. The key is the stock. Those boxes of chicken stock you get at the supermarket or Trader Joe's are not much better than water, so you should make stock from scratch. For me, supermarket chicken is too bland to make stock just from the carcass, but turkey necks make a first rate stock for a decent price.

            Milk or cream is optional (I prefer neither), and more stock is a waste if the stock has no taste. Go buy some turkey necks (or chicken thighs or drumsticks) and make a decent stock. Make a big batch and freeze what you can't use right away.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Zeldog

              I disagree w your characterization of those boxes of stock are not much better than water. I use them all the time, they give my dishes a lot of flavor, and are not flavorless. Most famous chefs use them too, so to discredit them and say you should ONLY use homemade stock is baseless.

              1. re: Zeldog

                I have never made my own puropse made stock from turkey necks. Do you have a basic recipe?

              2. Recipe from the Tabasco cookbook adds a can of artichoke hearts, and of course Tabasco. The first recipe I tried and never moved on from there.

                1. My family's "recipe" for Cawl Cennin (Welsh leek soup) couldn't be easier, I make it all the time. It's a very traditional rustic soup, so the quantities aren't very specific.

                  - Clean and chop a "big bunch" of leeks, we use both white and green parts as long as they aren't too tough.
                  - Saute them in lots of butter with a little salt and pepper until just softened.
                  - Add "a few" old baking potatoes cut in small cubes and enough good light stock to cover
                  - Simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes can be crushed easily with a spoon and the stock starts to thicken from the starch in them
                  - Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher or pulse with an immersion blender until it's smooth enough... we always leave it with a bit of texture, it's not Vichyssoise :)
                  - Thin the soup with a bit of milk or cream, again let the consistency be your guide. Season with more salt and pepper and add a few tbsp of chopped fresh thyme, chives, or any herbs you like.
                  - Heat gently until it's hot enough to serve, eat in big bowls with crusty bread and cheese on the side...

                  Most of the "creaminess" and thickness comes from the potato starch, not dairy. Old, starchy potatoes make the best soup. We don't use onions and never garlic because they would overpower the delicate leeks. I might add a chopped shallot if I have one kicking around, but it's not needed if you use a lot of leeks. I also sometimes add very little sriracha, hot pepper flakes or a pinch of nutmeg - not traditional, but good. Leeks have a really unique subtle flavour, almost cucumber-like, that should shine in this soup but gets muddled easily, IMO.

                  Forgive me for my traditionalism, leeks (and this soup) are cornerstones of Welsh cooking. ;)

                  1. All good ideas here. To add more body, I sometimes make a butter/flour roux and stir it into the soup. I'll add a pinch of ground thyme for background notes.

                    1. As posted by all above, stock is the key. I saute onions and leek, then garlic, the simmer the potatoes in stock. I'm also a fan a sweetcorn in this type of soup, so I guess I end up with more of a potato and corn chowder. Oh, then a dollop of creme fraiche, some chives and maybe a bit of crumbled bacon on top. Ahem. OK, so more of a fully loaded, baked potato soup then.

                      As an aside, beef stock makes for an amazing, rich flavour. However, it turns the soup a very unappealing colour. Don't do it.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ultimatepotato

                        Great tips here, I think the main alteration I will make is: scrap the milk - use chicken stock & cream
                        Add onion.
                        I have read a recipe which includes celery aswell but not sure about that one.
                        And definitely puree it better so it is very creamy. WIll give the truffle garnish a shot and post a review

                        1. re: mandarin

                          I'm surprised nobody mentioned buttermilk. That, along with white wine, gives it that acidic punch. I always add thyme as well.

                          I second the recommendation of sauteed shallots and onions. That's the starting point for a lot of my soups.

                          1. re: mandarin

                            never add celery to this soup, it is way too overpowering! It is true that in most soups you would add the full mirepoix, but this is one of those exceptions!as is a benedictine....or veloute of potato...there are lots of variations here, which are great, but in my opinion, simple is best! any creamy soup or veloute should never have milk...always use stock( chicken or vegie), use potato or rice as a natural thickener, and always finish with heavy cream. And invest in a really good hand blender...and peppercorn, bay leaf and thyme are always your base flavourings of any soup...whatever spice you want to add, do so during the puree process(example nutmeg in a veloute of roasted cauliflower). This same rule applies when making a non blended soup too! Soups are 1 of my specialties, and I have about 60 in my repetoire that i make all the time....keep it simple ! Traditional soups, (like mulligatwany or lobster bisque ) I wouls keep traditional...others are the time to experiment....have fun! soups are one of the easiest things to do, and they can be done well....

                        2. You need a lot more chicken stock and I reduce it by half. Don't use any milk just finish the soup with cream. Also be sure that you are not under seasoning the soup, potatoes require a lot of seasoning. Lastly, a little freshly grated nutmeg and some chives are a great way to finish.

                          1. It also helps lift the flavor quite a lot to caramelize some extra leek whites and add just a wee bit of soy sauce and worchestershire during the process. I'll sometimes add a little roasted garlic, too.

                            1. One more voice for good stock and no milk.

                              I've always had good results making a classic vichysoisse, to serve hot or cold. Started making it back in the 70s with the recipe from my now-tattered copy of Joy Of Cooking. Butter, leeks (white part only), a bit of onion, then stock, potatoes, a pinch of white pepper or cayenne, some nice cream after the potatoes are done. Puree (strain if it needs to be really silky) and serve with fresh snipped chives and a sparing grind of good fresh pepper. If the stock was mild or bland, I used to add a bit of Morga bouillon, but since they stopped making that marvelous stuff it's a splash of Maggi, though only when necessary. Maybe salt. If you taste it and really think it lacks something, a simple butter swirl or creme fraiche or sour cream if you feel the need. A slug of dry sherry might be OK... But I agree with the previous posters who argued in favor of letting the leeks and potato shine- if a soup like this is overseasoned, the spices dominate. Not necessary or desirable; to me that's gilding the lily.

                              Now if one were making a heavier, more differentiated soup, say a chunky bacon-leek-potato, sure, I could see some more complexity- shallot or garlic, rosemary or thyme, perhaps a touch of acid to finish. Hot sauce, maybe. Sage and green onion, even.

                              But the simple, delicate beauty of leek and potato, so easily eclipsed, never pales for me.

                              1. I have tried the Potato & Leek soup this evening (with suggested improvements) and it is fantastic.

                                Started with Cooking 1 shallot, garlic clove, celery stalk, 3 leeks & half an onion in butter for 15 minutes
                                Added home cooked chicken stock ( 3 cups) and cubed potato (350g). Bought to boil and simmered 20 minutes
                                Added white pepper and salt. Pureed
                                Back to pot & added 3/4 cup cream

                                THe result was brilliant! Fresh chopped chives on top is a must do! I am sold with these ingredients and method. Thanks all for the tips...

                                1. Oh another thing... I have decided not to experiment by adding shaved truffle on top. Although a friend suggested to me if I were to serve at a dinner party add some fresh crab meat or lobster at the bottom.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: mandarin

                                    I use marjoram as the only spice except salt/pepper. And use as little potato as necessary.

                                    1. re: tbrownex

                                      A close acquaintance says marjoram is the only seasoning she uses in soups anymore. I'll have to try to remember that; marjoram is not one of the herbs that comes readily to mind for me.

                                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                        marjoram is the only spice pronounced the same forward and backward

                                        1. re: porker

                                          it's spelled the same either way too ;)

                                          but seriously, i love the way the flavor complements leeks - it's more floral & less sharp than its cousin oregano, so it doesn't overwhelm their subtle sweetness.

                                  2. just made a killer all organic version--4 leeks braised in butter, 2lbs potato boiled in 4 cups veggie stock (not homemade), s&p, marjoram, hit it with a immersion blender. No need for garlic, shallot, onion--they are in the allium family, as are leeks, and will compete. also no need for cream--the potato starch thickens it nicely.

                                    1. I use David Lebovitz's extremely simple recipe including bay leaves, fresh thyme and a touch of chili powder. He also uses vegetable stock, as do I. A very good one.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: chefathome

                                        saute leeks onion, potaoes in butter. add some bay leaf, peppercorn, fresh thyme sprigs, and whole smashed garlic. cover with chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes. puree with a hand blender, and season with pepper...add some 15% heavy cooking cream and puree again. once ladeled into bowls, garnish with truffled salt! this is a classic soup and shouldnt be complicated....the original(called parmentier) is started with some sauted lardon, or pork belly at the beginning...it lends a smoky flavour...however it is not needed especially if yoy are garnishing with truffle salt!
                                        bon apetit!