It’s time for soup again – the hot, comforting type. The sun has been shining here in London today, the sky a clear blue, but there’s a distinct chill in the air that makes even sitting in the garden with a cup of coffee an impossibility for this sun-loving food writer. I’m busy with work and ‘Nonna duties’ – the help I give my son who lives locally with his three sons; once a month ‘Nonna duty’ is in Worcestershire when I visit my daughter. Looking after grandchildren – my four grandsons range in age from 9 months to 6½ years – is a delight. I feel it’s such a privilege that I’m able to give the help I do and spend precious time with them. I also enjoy my work and autumn has always been a busy time but working freelance from home gives me lots of flexibility to sort much of my day-to-day life as I want. However, a busy schedule also means that lunch needs to be something quick and easy and once autumn comes, winter hot (or cold!) on its heels, then having a selection of homemade soups packed up in single portions in my freezer is just perfect. Today, however, the freezer was empty of soup so while out this morning I picked up a packet of organic leeks. Thus leek soup it would be. It’s such a classic and I remember years ago often making Vichyssoise – iced leek soup enriched with cream – in the summer. But hot is just as good. I like to keep soups simple and thus would mix the leeks with just some potato – equal parts – and flavour it with a little fresh thyme, picked from the pot just outside my kitchen sitting in the sun. What could be more perfect on a sunny but chilly day!
Leek, Potato & Thyme Soup
- 400g leeks
- 400g potatoes (not new; ones that will mash)
- 25g butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- about 750ml of light stock or water
- a little cream for serving (optional)
My leeks needed little trimming or cleaning but if you have a lot of green at the top, cut the roughest part off. If the leeks are very dirty, cut lengthwise and clean under a running cold tap.
Cut the leeks into 1cm slices. Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks. Put the butter and oil into a saucepan and heat. When the butter has melted, add the leeks and cook gently for a few minutes until softening, stirring frequently. Then add the diced potato. Mix well and cook for another couple of minutes.
Pull the leaves of the thyme from the stalks and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together.
Pour in enough stock or water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Remove from the heat and blend with a hand blender until smooth. I like soup like this quite thick but add a little more stock or water if you want it thinner. Check seasoning.
All done! I made it after I got back from shopping in the morning and then only needed to heat it through again for lunch. The rest, once cooled, would be packed in single portions in freezer bags for other days.
I drizzled over a little extra virgin olive oil and then added a dollop of cream. Huge indulgence for a midweek simple lunch, but rather wonderful! I also sprinkled over a few thyme leaves.
I served it with just some sourdough toast.
It was such a simple dish that I’d wondered whether it was too simple to put on the blog! But then I tasted it and simple as it might be to prepare, with only really a couple of ingredients, the taste was wonderful. The soup had blended into a creamy mix that so perfectly gives full flavour and is a delight to eat. The added cream was a luxurious but superb indulgence; the thyme added a light, fresh contrast. It was so good that it surpassed my own expectations and I was reminded how just a few simple ingredients can produce something really special.