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When do you use leeks?

I know I have used them for other things, mostly when trying a new recipe, but the one thing I have found they really make the difference in is in potato soup. Was asked by a guy at the produce counter yesterday about them and it got me to thinking. How would you describe the difference between leeks and onions? The only description that comes to mind is that the flavor of leeks seems more refined and subtle. When do you feel they are worth the extra expense?

He also asked would you use them with or instead of onions. I said instead, but again, am now wondering if there are times to use them with onions.

Also, do you ever use them raw?

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  1. I use them as a sub for onions, to jazz things up so to speak. But never raw, at least that I can recall, except as a funny garnish. Can't say why though, now that you ask. Guess because it's one of the few produce items I buy specifically for a certain dish.

    1. Number of differences between leeks and onions. I suppose the biggest is that they are generally milder. Whilst I use onions regularly as a flavouring base, it's much rarer that leeks get used in the same way (although I'd add both to, say, a stew). On the other hand, I rarely cook onions as a vegetable accompaniment to a meal but leeks regularly appear in that role - baked/roasted, boiled or, perhaps most often, thinly sliced and steamed, along with grated root vegetables. Fried to crisp, they can be an interesting garnish.

      Classic accompaniment to chicken, of course, where it goes great together in a pie at this time of year. For tiny "new season" leeks, they go really well with peas.

      Never use them raw but, otherwise, they're so versatile, they're rarely not in our kitchen.

      1. I love leeks and use them often. To me they are a sweeter/milder cousin to your standard onion.

        I love them sautéed with spinach as a bed for simply grilled fish and chicken.

        I use them in a number of veggie soups like carrot/ginger and creamy cauliflower.

        I use them quiche like dishes too.

        Bottom line I almost always have them on hand!

        1. I use leeks whenever I have them.*

          (*they grow in the garden at the house)

          1. we use them quite often, tho not as often as regular onions, and even less often then shallots. but i have often used them in combo with onions, in stews. i also love braising them as a side dish. and we have used them raw in salads, finely minced.