Leek and potato soup is a perfect choice for an Imbolc dinner. It is made from winter vegetables that would have been stored from last years harvest and fresh cream from newly lactating cows.
New chives may not have their heads above ground but thyme and parsley may be available as would bay leaves, having been dried the previous summer. If adding either do it while the leeks are cooking and remember to take the bay leaf out before serving.
Both this soup and the legends of Brigid and the Cailleach Béara are strongly connected to Ireland. One of those tales is the battle between Brigid in her maiden aspect and the Hag of Béara over when winter would fully come to an end allowing spring to bring life back to the land. I like the image of a battle where the tide shifts both ways as that is very much how spring arrives in my part of the world; sunny days followed by dreary wet days before the snowdrops pop their heads up through the last of the snow.
You will need:
1/2 cup butter
2 fresh leeks
3 3/4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock if the finished product should be vegan
4 cups yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
salt & pepper to taste
As you gather the ingredients and prepare to begin, consider inviting Brigid into your kitchen. This is after all an Irish dish being made to honour her. Bring your focus into the present moment, letting go of the distractions and irritations the keep you from being….here…. now. They may be just waiting around to latch back on but that is a choice for later. For now close your eyes, take a couple of deep breathes, open your heart and begin.
Many leeks have earth in between the first few sections of leek so washing is important. It is possible to place the chopped pieces in a large bowl of water and let the dirt sink to the bottom of the bowl while other ingredients are prepared. Whichever method is chosen, a good wash will probably be needed.
Many recipes call for using just the white and light green sections of the leek, the darker green section being used for stock making as it is deemed too tough to eat. I have used the entire leek in this soup.
Historically late January was a time when options are sparse and half of any vegetable would not have been left unused. It seemed appropriate that they be in a dish that celebrates the coming end of a time of lack. We are very fortunate to be able to pick and chose and if you would like a whiter soup, by all means leave the darker sections out and change up the yellow potatoes for white ones.
Allow the leeks to cook down for 10 – 15 minutes.
This is a good time to peel and dice the potatoes. Making them all a similar size will allow the pieces to soften at the same time. Different sizes will mean some pieces will be falling apart while others are still hard.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the stock and the potatoes to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat and allowing the potatoes to simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. The actual time will depend on the size of the dice.
If the goal is a vegan soup, it is time add a little more vegetable stock (1/2 to 2 cups) before serving.
If a vegetarian/classic is the goal, now is the time to add the dairy. The choice is again yours. I added just over 1/2 cup whipping cream but anything from skim to more than 1/2 cup whipping cream can be used. It depends on your goals in finishing off the soup. Budget, fat content, flavour, what is on hand, will all play a part in that decision.
Lastly if you have a household of carnivores, adding sliced smoked sausages into the soup will surely make them happy although it will no longer technically be leek & potato soup.
You can see in the picture to the right that the leeks still have a brightness to them. The extra cooking time for the potatoes will take much of that away, with everything tending towards a creamy yellow.
Sprinkle some fresh thyme or parsley on top to bring a little life back if either is easily available. Pair with Fine Herb & Gouda Puff Pastry Sticks if time allows.
Whether you gather with a group of friends or around the dinner table with family, Leek & Potato soup is a hearty meal, ideal for any cold winter night and the coming festival.
Leek & Potato Soup from My Kitchen Wand
Leek & Potato Soup not from My Kitchen Wand