Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lightened Up Leek and Potato Soup

It seems like kitchen-magic to take a few leeks, some potatoes, a little cream and vegetable broth and turn it into an incredibly flavorful soup. This soup is gooooood! A real keeper! It's one of my favorites. It was my mother's favorite too. In the months before she passed away, she'd ask me to make it for her, along with minestrone and pasta fagioli. All she wanted was soup. It felt good to soothe her with my simple soups. Isn't that what soups are all about? Pure comfort.

A nurse where I work said she made a pot of this soup in the morning, by the time she got home from work, it was all gone. Her family had devoured it. She made it again and the same thing happened. Her finicky husband takes a thermos of it to work with him now. It makes her happy to feed him well. It makes my heart so happy to hear her family loved it.

Leek and potato soup is both elegant and homey. The flavors taste somehow refined. Yet it's a beloved, easy, economical meal served in modest, French country homes for centuries. I once read that French women eat leek soup, minus the cream, when they need a detoxifying meal. They think of it as a remedy for indulging in too much heavier fare. It's all about balanced-eating with the French.

I lightened it up a bit from most traditional recipes, which call for one cup of heavy cream and three tablespoons of butter. If you don't include the cream, it'll be vegan and even healthier. I think it's just as good without it. I make it with or without the cream, depending on my mood and appetite.

Lightened Up Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

Some notes:

Leeks are extremely good for us. They're loaded with flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. They contain a good amount of Vitamin K, B vitamins and a host of antioxidants. No wonder this soup chased my cold away. It did my body good.

This soup can be made even more low calorie by omitting the cream. I only use a wee bit in the whole pot, so include it if you want a little more richness. Some of my readers said they used evaporated milk in place of the cream with good results. With or without the cream, it's delicious. But, don't forget to follow my tips below.

The soup reheats well. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days. Pair it with a grilled cheese or a ham and cheese panini, or even a piece of crusty bread. I like to make a big pot on Sunday for the workweek. Then all we have to do is reheat the soup and make some grilled cheese sandwiches or paninis and dinner is done. As with most soups and stews, this gets better as it sits.

The Secret Ingredient: People, I cannot tell you how much I adore Rapunzel No Salt Vegetable Bouillon Cubes . If you're turning your nose up at bouillon, don't. They're simply the best on the market. They taste clean and pure. They will not overpower your favorite vegetable soups with an off-taste like some of the other brands I've tried. They're nothing like those strange-tasting vegetable stocks and broths sold in most supermarkets. They're worth every penny, especially if you make a lot of soup. I find them at Whole Foods for about $3.75 for a package of 8 cubes or on line. I buy them by the case and keep them in my cupboard to use in all kinds of vegetable soups and stews.

Another secret ingredient is potato starch. It's an easy, inexpensive, all purpose, tasteless, gluten-free thickener to use in soups, stews, sauces and gravies. Some people have found it in the kosher section of the supermarket. Bob's Red Mill sells it online. Mix it with equal parts cold water and then immediately stir it into the soup. Voila, instant creamy soup with half the fat and calories. 

This recipe makes an entire large pot full. You can puree it with an immersion blender, but I like it rustic and chunky. Serve this soup with chopped chives, scallions or even a dollop of light or full-fat sour cream. But it's perfectly fine on its own.

  • 4 large leeks, remove the dark green part and discard, rinse them very well. Chop into small pieces.
  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 4 Rapunzel No-Salt Vegetable Bouillon Cubes. Do not use a vegetable stock or broth or bouillon that you would not sip on its own or it'll ruin your soup.  (see notes)
  • 4 tablespoons of heavy cream or half and half (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of fine grain sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 9 cups of water
  • A tablespoon or two of potato starch mixed with a tablespoon or two of cold water  
  • To Serve: chopped chives, dill or the finely diced green part of a few scallions, sour or thick Greek yogurt for serving , a tiny bit of grated nutmeg can be added to the pot at the end of cooking. Not enough to really taste it, just a wee bit as a subtle background flavor.   


Place a large soup pot on the stove, add the olive oil and chopped leeks and a little salt and pepper. It will seem like a lot of leeks, but they'll cook down. Saute leeks until they're starting to wilt. Covering the pot and stirring from time to time helps them start to wilt more quickly. This should take about 5-10 minutes on medium-medium high heat. While the leeks are cooking, peel and chop the potatoes. Add the potatoes to the pot when the leeks have started to wilt.

Add the water, the Rapunzel Bouillon cubes and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the cream(if using). You can add a tablespoon or two of more cream if you'd like a richer soup. Taste. Adjust salt and pepper.

To thicken the soup even more, mash some of the potatoes with the back of a spoon and/or use the potato starch and water method. To give the soup much more richness and a smooth, creamy texture, mix a tablespoon or two of potato starch with a tablespoon or two of cold water and add that to the soup toward the end of cooking. Instant thickener! Gluten free and tasteless. I highly recommend it!  Serve with suggestions and enjoy!


More Light and Healthy Recipes from Jilly

Fast & Fresh Pea Soup with Thai Flavors. A Cure For the Winter Blues

Light & Creamy Tomato Soup


  1. Woke up this morning with the beginnings of a cold. Thanks for your soup recipe, just what this cold is needing. Needing to get it out of my system.
    Thanks so much, just the soup I was looking for.

  2. You're very welcome. Thanks for leaving a comment! Always love hearing from my readers. I hope you feel better soon. I hope this soup helps. ;)