This no cream leek and potato soup is a classic French soup that’s so easy to make. It’s super versatile and can be used as the base for several other soups. It’s also very budget-friendly and can feed a family of four for just a few dollars.
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What’s the Difference Between a Leek and an Onion?
Leeks and onions, while in the same family, really taste different. A leek is more subtle in flavor.
And while leeks look like very large scallions, you won’t want to use all of the green part as you do with a green onion. After cleaning the leek, remove the uppermost green section, and keep the lightest green to white portion.
But don’t throw the green leaf or “sheath” away. The green part of the leek is perfect for making a Bouquet Garni. This is a mixture of fresh herbs that are tied together and cooked in with soups, stocks, sauces and stews, adding flavor and fragrance.
Can onion be substituted for leeks?
Yes! While the flavor of a leek is similar to onion, it’s more mild, so use fewer onions if you don’t have any leeks.
How to clean a leek
Leeks can be dirty! To clean a leek, slice vertically, and then really swish it around in water to get all the dirt out from in between the leaves. If you’re planning on using leek for something other than soup, slice into rings first and then swish in water to remove the dirt.
How to Make Potato and Leek Soup Without Cream
Besides being super easy, this potato leek soup recipe requires just a few basic ingredients. You’ll need potatoes, a leek or two, and some broth. That’s pretty much it.
After cleaning and slicing the leek, sauté in olive oil over a medium-low heat. Cover and “sweat” the onions for a few minutes until translucent and soft. When you “sweat” onions, you are letting them cook and soften, rather than caramelize and brown.
Next, add the cubed potatoes and broth. Season with kosher salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.
How to purée soup
You can puree potato and leek soup using a blender or with a stick or immersion blender.
I prefer to blend my soups whenever possible. This is the preferred method used in restaurants. You’ll get a much smoother consistency than with a stick blender.
If you use a blender, there are a few safety tips you should be aware of. First, make sure to fill the blender only 1/3 of the way. Especially if the soup is hot.
Next, place a towel over the lid and hold the lid down with one hand, while blending. Many kitchen accidents happen because the heat of the soup combined with the force of the blender can propel the lid, resulting in burns and a huge mess!
If you’re in a hurry or don’t own a blender, using an immersion blender will work. It may take a little longer to get all the potato pieces fully blended. Keep the immersion blender submerged while pulsing to avoid splatters.
If you want a chunky leek and potato soup, you can either strain out some potato chunks before blending, or use an immersion blender for less time, leaving the soup chunky.
Nearly all of my recipes contain the phrase, “season to taste”. This is a common culinary term. While it’s best to always season at the beginning, I tend to start with less salt and then check after blending for a final seasoning.
White pepper is always used in light colored soups and sauces like a bechamel or hollandaise where the specks of black pepper would be noticeable in the sauce or soup. White pepper has a distinctively different taste and is much finer than black pepper.
This leek and potato soup recipe has no cream, but feel free to add ¼ cup of milk or cream for richer taste.
Using Leek and Potato Soup as a Base for Other Soups
There are so many more soups you can make with this basic potato leek soup recipe. You could add roasted red peppers, broccoli or a bit of corn and shredded chicken. Or try one of these soup recipes:
- Vichyssoise is chilled leek and potato soup with a generous addition of cream. To make vichyssoise, use less broth. After blending and chilling the soup, add heavy cream until it’s the desired consistency.
- Baked Potato Soup can be made by using an immersion blender and leaving large chunks of potatoes in the soup. Add sour cream, shredded cheese, diced bacon and chives.
- You can also use this recipe as a starting point for Chunky Vegetable Soup. Add diced broccoli, carrots, kale, spinach or corn. Cook until vegetables are tender and puree. You could even add in some crumbled sausage for a heartier meal.
This post was originally posted on September 16th, 2011 and has been updated to contain nutritional information.
Leek and Potato Soup
- In a large stock pan, heat butter and olive oil over a medium heat. Sauté leeks 3 or 4 minutes. Then cover, reduce heat to medium low, and "sweat" for an additional 5 minutes. When you "sweat" onions, you are letting them cook and soften, rather than caramelize and brown.
- Add the chopped potatoes and chicken broth.
- Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft when you poke a fork into them, about 20 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender or puree the soup in batches in a blender. (See notes) If you use an immersion blender, you'll get a chunkier, more rustic soup. Or puree it in a blender, for a more elegant soup.
- If it’s too thick, add more chicken broth or some milk or cream.
- Season with salt and white pepper.