A classic soup that manages to have its feet firmly in dark winter days, but also reminds us that a spring filled with fresh green vegetables is on its way. Potatoes and leeks are staples of the leaner winter months, and like so many other vegetables with similar growing seasons, they pair just as well in a pot as in an allotment. Leeks aren't often centre stage, but sautéing them in a little butter brings out all their lovely sweet allium flavours, and reminds you how satisfying simple can be.
To cut down on food waste, don't peel the potatoes, but rather leave them to cook in their skins. Much of their lovely potato flavour is found in the skin, although it is still definitely worth cutting out any bruises or eyes.
Commercial stock cubes are often overly herby in flavour (as well as overly processed) so it would be worth making your own stock for this soup. As leek tops are a core ingredient in any basic veg or chicken stock it's a nice closed loop of a recipe, and means you use every part of the leek.
If you can't find chives, parsley or thyme also make for a nice fresh garnish, and while untraditional, a small grating of nutmeg gives a warm note to this wintry dish.
1L chicken or vegetable stock
Cream/Whole Milk/Creme Fraiche (optional)
Begin by prepping all the vegetables. Chop the potatoes into similarly sized small chunks. Do the same with the onion. Slice the leeks, going right up the stems until the texture of the leek changes and feels thick and leafy.
When all the veg is ready, heat the butter in a large saucepan and once it foams add the diced vegetables. Sprinkle over a little salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg, and stir well. Cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables sweat over a gentle heat until soft and the onions have turned translucent, about ten minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the stock.
Once the vegetables are soft, add the warm stock and bring the whole lot up to a boil and summer until the potatoes are cooked through.
Blend, and adjust the seasoning. If you're making the soup ahead of time, stop here. Otherwise add a generous dash of cream or milk to enhance the creamy texture of the soup, to your taste.
To finish off, add a swirl of sour cream or creme fraiche, and sprinkle some chopped chives over each bowl. Both the allium flavour of the chives, and their bright green colour really lift the soup.