Leek and Potato Soup with Cauliflower
I never get tired of soup. We had the first day of fall not long ago, and my first thought was of soup season. Don’t get me wrong – I love the sun and the summer, and I’m sorry to see that go. But I’ve missed my stock pot steaming away on the back burner, and the cozy aromas that fill the house. Somehow, soup makes a home feel even more like a home.
Soup also has a wonderful way of slowing down meal times. I love to sit with my little family, hovering over steaming bowls of hot liquid, savoring each warming spoonful. You can’t rush soup. It has to be eaten the way food was meant to be enjoyed – languidly, between conversation and contented sighs.
Leek and Potato Soup is a classic Irish dish. Filled with hearty potatoes and cream, it’s not a soup that’s known for being easy on the waistline. But with leek season upon us, I couldn’t pass up the totally reasonable price for these delicious bulbs in the organic section. Aromatic and sweet, leeks have a mild onion flavor that tastes luxurious. It’s the more sophisticated allium, you see.
So I set out to lighten up a classic without sacrificing deliciousness. Potatoes are healthier than people give them credit for, but they are pretty carby little tubers. So I halved the potato content and added in a good bunch of cauliflower. Pureed cauliflower is great in soup – it has a thick and creamy texture that’s reminiscent of potatoes, but without all the baggage. And it’s fantastic for you. Cauliflower is packed with good stuff, including phytonutrients that help detoxify your liver (fellow booze sippers, take note).
Now I just had to leave some cream in this recipe. Cream is a beautiful thing, and can certainly be enjoyed in moderation. So I used a modest bit of heavy cream and then supplemented with milk. The result? Decadence.
One thing I loved about this soup was how much my 9-month-old daughter enjoyed it. I ate my dinner with her in my lap, and she spent the whole meal trying to strong-arm my bites to her mouth. Can’t say I’ve ever wrestled a baby over a bowl of soup before.
Doesn’t this velvety bowl of goodness just scream early autumn?
If possible, let your chopped leeks and garlic rest for 5-10 minutes before adding them to the pan. Research shows that cutting allium vegetables allows important nutrients to release and stabilize before the cooking heat can destroy them.
- 4 large leeks (about 7 cups), chopped
- 12 oz. russet potatoes (about 2 small), peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 oz. cauliflower (about 4 cups), chopped
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup 2% milk (or whatever milk you have on hand)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- fresh parsley, minced, for garnish
- Heat oil and butter in a large stock pan over medium heat
- Add leeks and garlic and cook for 6-8 minutes or until softened, stirring often
- Add broth, potatoes, cauliflower and bay leaf and bring to a boil
- Simmer until potatoes and cauliflower are fork tender, about 20 minutes
- Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor or blender until smooth (be careful!)
- Return to the pot and add cream, milk, salt and pepper. Stir to combine
- Garnish individual bowls with chopped parsley