I think I know so little about cooking because my parents are both such great cooks. I was able to focus on my homework, cello, or just playing after school and didn’t have to worry about whether or not there would be anything good for dinner. But because my responsibility was setting and clearing the table, not actually making the meal, I missed out on many opportunities early on to pick up some valuable skills. Now that Giulian and I have a kitchen at our disposal, I’m finally getting to practice my basic kitchen skills and hopefully develop as rich a database for delicious, exciting, achievable meals as my parents have.
One dish that was a favourite of mine as a kid was my mum’s Potato Leek Soup. She didn’t make it all that often, at least how I remember it; it was more of a special winter dish. I’d been wanting to try it on my own for a while and I finally got my hands on some leeks and enough spare time to make dinner, it was soup time!
The soup itself it actually ridiculously easy to make. You’ll need 3 large leeks (or 5-6 small ones) and 1.5 lbs of potatoes. I determined that equaled about 5 medium-small potatoes. You don’t have to be right on. It’s very forgiving. You’ll also need 2 Tbs. butter. Mum’s recipe is inspired directly by the recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, but she often adds kale. If you want to add kale, which I did, you’ll need a few handfuls of chopped kale as well.
Start by slicing off the roots and green parts of the leeks. Then slice them once lengthwise and then into fairly thin slices. If you feel you didn’t get all the sand and dirt out of them beforehand, it’s a good idea to soak them in a bowl of water while you prep the potatoes.
Depending on how you like your potatoes, you can chop them however. I like leaving the soup unblended, so I prefer my potatoes in medium-sized slices. After peeling, I cut them once down the middle lengthwise and then into somewhat thin slices.
Once those are both prepped, throw the butter into a wide soup pot and let it melt. Next, add the leeks and potatoes and mix to coat them all with butter. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat. By then the leeks will have softened quite a bit.
Here’s where you add the liquid. You can just use water, but I know some people use a vegetable or chicken stock as well. We happened to have leftover stock in the fridge, so I used that up, which was about 3 cups, and then added 4 cups of water. Whatever you decide, add 7 cups of liquid. It’s also not a bad idea to add some salt here and any other herbs you feel moved to use. I kept it simple, just salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes, partially covered, until the potatoes are cooked. I added the kale after bringing it to a boil and left it to cook for 25 minutes or so, which was long enough to cook the potatoes and kale sufficiently.
When it’s done, you should be left with potatoes that are soft but don’t disintegrate immediately upon contact and flavorful kale that isn’t tough. At home we always have heavy cream on hand, and it provides a little hint of richness to an otherwise simple soup. Ladle the soup into some bowls and let everyone add cream to taste.
Giulian was very skeptical of that fact that I refused to blend it all together, but I enjoy the variety of textures this way, aided by the added kale. All in all, I think I did a really good job with this one.