Spring is still soup season

THE OTHER DAY IT WAS SO BLUSTERY AND COLD that I decided soup was in order. A nice between-season soup is the leek-potato one, and you can add fresh parsley or other greens to it just before serving to give it a fresher spring flavor. I found that I’d written a blog about it years ago, and it sounded good enough to recycle. It reminded me to sweat those leeks (awful as it sounds)! And though I was lacking stock or broth of any kind, I just used water and it was still just fine. With some bread or popovers, and perhaps a salad — I’d call it a meal fit for the season.

Fresh leeks are a glorious, yet humble, sign of spring — and when Cathy’s neighbor brought over a big bagful of freshly picked leeks, I set to work on some leek-potato soup.

Most of this work took place around the sink, as leeks like to hold on to dirt in their layers, so they demand a lot of cleaning.  Basically, you cut off the dark green leaves and the root-y bottoms, then run the rest (the white and light green parts) under running water, making sure you clean between the layers. If the leeks are very fat, slice them vertically before cutting your horizontal slices.

I’ve never been quite happy with the texture of leeks in the soup I’ve made previously, so this time I consulted Cathy’s cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, and these experts supplied the ultimate tip: sweat the leeks.

It’s not the most attractive term, but basically it means that you saute the slices of leeks in some oil or butter, and then put a lid on top for 15 minutes or so. The leeks continue to cook in their own moisture, and they will become meltingly soft and intense.

Now all you need to do is to add some vegetable or chicken broth, a bay leaf and perhaps some thyme, salt and pepper, and a few potatoes — red or white or Yukon gold — cleaned and cut into about 1/2-inch dice. You can leave the skins on if you like. Cook till the potatoes are soft, then smash some of them against the side of the pot to thicken the soup. It’s nice left chunky like this, with pieces of potato and leek in your soup bowl.

I found this advertisement in a store flier. Were the mushrooms leaking out of the strudel?

Do not confuse a leek with a leak. If in doubt, please contact me for proofreading advice.



Filed under fall, Praise for other cooks, soup, spring, supper time, Uncategorized, vegetables, winter

6 responses to “Spring is still soup season

  1. Rick Steigmeyer

    Very nice weaving of wonderful recipes, photos, drawings, personality and humor. I love your blog.

  2. Elsie Antee

    Hi Toby,
    I always enjoy reading your new recipes & fabulous, interesting stories. You are so creative & in a sense, your stories remind me very much of your Dad, although he wasn’t much into cooking. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • lemonodyssey

      hi Elsie —
      Actually, my Dad loved the magic and chemistry of cooking and I remember he often impressed us with the wonder of an “oven pancake” or German oven pancakes, known more commonly as “Dutch babies.” I’ll have to post that recipe here soon. He also made schmarn, which is kind of a rich, scrambled pancake. And German potato salad, delicious and simple potato salad with vinagrette dressing. No mayonnaise!

  3. Maggie

    Woke up to snow today, April 5th! Definitely time to make soup. maggie


    Thank you Toby–When I get some leeks I will definitely make this. Would love the German potato salad recipe.
    Am still in the Mushroomers Assoc.(remember when we hunted shrooms for the show?), and more active in it.
    Thanks for the recipes and little bits of cookery art.

    Martha Dyck

    • lemonodyssey

      Yes, Martha, of course I remember hunting for mushrooms with you! I think you have more stamina than I do for cold wet autumn weather! Good to hear from you. Toby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s