Leek Soup

Katie Maxwell, Visitor Services Coordinator

This simple soup recipe can be found on page 81 of 35 Receipts from “The Larder Invaded” by William Woys Weaver. The original 1906 recipe was included in an early 20th century vegetarian cookbook. The 1906 version includes directions, but not a separate list of ingredients, so Dr. Weaver has helpfully included the ingredients in the proper ratios on page 82.

Ingredients for leek soup from William Woy Weaver's The Larder Invaded.

2 cups sliced leek (white part only)

4 cups diced potato

enough water to cover

2 tblsp. butter

4 tblsp. olive oil

4 tblsp. Minced onion

Four tablespoons of diced onion measured.

This doesn’t look like much onion.

3 qt. boiling water

3 tsp. salt *

½ tsp. white pepper

1 shallot minced

* Since it is better to add too little salt than too much, I decided to add salt gradually until it tasted salty enough instead of measuring. You can always add more, but you can’t subtract it.

Wash the leeks, and cut off the roots. Cut the white part in thin slices.

Sliced leeks ready to be washed and drained

I actually prefer to slice the leeks and then wash them. The sand and dirt gets pretty embedded in the leeks. By slicing them first, I can give them a good soak and then drain them. (Also I’m pretty sure that’s what Rachel Ray said to do once.)

Pare the potatoes,

I assuredly, certainly, most definitely did not look up how to “pare.”

And cut in dice. Put them in a bowl of cold water.

Diced potatoes in a bowl of water to keep them from discoloring.

The water keeps them from turning grey. This has happened to me before. Greyish oxidized potatoes don’t taste any different, but they don’t look very appetizing.

Put the butter, leeks, and onion in the soup pot and on the fire.

And shallot!

Dicing the shallots

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the oil goes in now as well.

Butter and oil heating in a pot.

Cook twenty minutes slowly, stirring frequently, then add the hot water, potatoes, seasoning, and cook at least half an hour longer.

I didn’t have any white pepper, so I used black pepper. It occurs to me that I don’t think I have bought white pepper in my entire adult life. I don’t have anything against it. I just never seem to think of it when actually in the grocery store.

Serve very hot. If it is convenient and liked, cook with the leeks and butter the white stalks of 4 or 5 cibols or 1 shallot may be cut fine and cooked with the leeks.

Leek Soup served with fresh crusty bread and basil.

It’s good with crusty bread and basil. Wiliam Woys Weaver specifically recommended using fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon or parsley, and I’ve been compulsively baking no knead bread every week.

This is a delicious and wholesome soup, and is even better reheated the second day than the first.

I can confirm that leek soup, like many soups and stews, is better the second day. This soup is pretty decent. It has a mild oniony flavor. It needed a little extra something though: a pinch of habanero hot sauce. No really, trust me. It is the perfect pairing. Habanero peppers have a floral flavor that compliments the flavor of the soup. Just try it.

Next time, I lean into my obsessive bread making with French Rolls while owning none of the expected equipment!