Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Welsh love affair. . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . with the leek!

I adore this vegetable. I grew up not in Wales where the leek is the 
national emblem, worn along with the daffodil flower 
(known in Welsh as "Peter's leek) on St. David's Day, but next door in southern England. 
There we grew, bought, gobbled up very inexpensive leeks often in my 
childhood household. I love them braised, but my favorite way is in soup, 
especially chilled vichyssoise in the summertime, and this one below, a 
steaming bowl of comforting leek and potato soup on a cold autumn or winter day.

My only disappointment with purchasing leeks here in the US, is the high price.
One local store was actually charging $1.99 per leek a few weeks back!
Most stores sell them by the pound - a few such as Trader Joe's have them pre-packaged 
in poly and priced per bag. If you buy leeks, you know the loose ones, which I prefer, 
have several inches of the tough dark green leaves left on. This part is not edible, 
very tough and stringy, so has to be thrown away. My compost bin loves them of course.

Right now I notice they have come down in price a bit - leeks are best in winter - 
but still they insist on selling them with too much up top which is wasted, and you 
have to pay for all that weight which you end up throwing out. Personally I feel ripped 
off paying for waste. I have visions of sneaking up to the produce display, little scissors 
in hand, and trimming off those dark green bits, before putting them into my bag. 
How naughty would that be?

Oh well, nothing nicer right now in this cold spell than a steaming bowl 
of easy to make leek and potato soup, a true comfort food. 
We had this a couple of nights ago after coming home from SuzAnna's and 
The Vintage Village Holiday Open House which was a great night out. 
We'd nibbled on finger foods and had a toddy, but came home a bit hungry. 
The soup was waiting, just needed re-warming, as I made it in the afternoon. 

I don't puree this soup as we like it chunky, used Russet potatoes. Just mash 
gently with a potato masher, add plenty of fresh ground pepper and a little salt to taste.
I use vegetable stock then add some cream to finish and enrich, and this time 
also some buttermilk.
It was delicious.

Have you ever grown your own leeks? If so, did you get a good crop? 
I have an empty raised bed and am considering trying to grow some.
Any tips would be appreciated. . . . . otherwise I may just consider moving 
to Wales to feed my addiction!!!


  1. We actually have some leeks in the veggie bin right now from our garden. Jim pulled them out when he put the garden to bed.
    I make a leek and potato soup, but puree it. It is quite good. If you plant them, as they grow just keep piling on the soil or compost
    and you will get a nice long edible part. Ours got kind of buried in other things and the live-in gardener forgot to do that, but they will
    still be good. I must use them this week for sure.

  2. Looks delicious, I like Leak Soup

  3. My daughter and I grew leeks when we lived in CA - it was fun and we loved the soups we made with them. They are not hard to grow - we planted ours in troughs about 6 inches deep and added soil as they grew taller - that is why there is so much dirt in leeks when you first cut them - they are like potatoes - need to be hilled to grow the long white part that we eat.

  4. I'm not a huge leek fan, but I do like leek and potato soup and yours looks great! I love the vision of you sneaking around a grocer's with a pair of scissors, trimming all the waste foliage off the vegetables; hilarious!!

  5. Mary, the soup looks delicious and reminds me just how much I enjoy leek & potato soup. Leeks are cheap and plentiful here at the moment so I'll put some in my basket next time I visit the market and make up a batch to your recipe. I believe that growing leeks is quite labour intensive and have never grown them myself, a raised bed would be a must I should think.
    Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving,

  6. I grew leeks this year, and some were very good. Some were a bit floppy but thats because I planted them in too shady a spot.

  7. Dear Mary, Nothing is easier than growing leeks. Even in Utah, where the winters can be brutal, I keep my leeks in the ground during the winter and use them as we need them. We protect them by piling leaves on top of them. But first we place a "fence" of chicken wire around the leek bed and then fill it with lots of dead leaves to the top.

    I posted a blog about Leeks on April 24th, 2013, (look for Leek Soup under headings).

    Early in the Spring you will find leek slips at the garden stores. Sometimes they come seeded in a little planter. It's easy to tear them apart and place in a trough, about 4 inches deep and 5 to 6 inches apart. Leeks are very hardy. They like to be watered regularly. Other than that just let them do their own thing.

    If you can't find leek slips in the Spring I will send them to you.

  8. I love leek and potato soup, one of my absolute favourites for this chillier days. We are lucky as the farmer grows them nearby so we can stop the car and take a couple from the edge if we want. They're a bit sandy inside but a good wash does the trick!

    1. Chel, I want to be your neighbor!! Imagine picking fresh leeks straight from the farm. . . . . I'd be there often!
      Yes, a good shower is often required to get the dirt out, but they are so worth it.
      Mary -

  9. Mary, Your leek and potato soup looks so rich and delicious. Leeks are one of my favorites too. I put them in quiches, that bread pudding I posted about, and soups. Your soup makes them shine. But true, they need a good wash. David and I wish you and Bob a very happy Thanksgiving.

  10. Mmmm. Such a warming soup. I do love leeks. They are expensive here, too, and it always bothers me to pay for those long green tops that go straight into the compost. I love a leek and roasted garlic soup, too.

  11. I'm sorry to say I've never eaten or cooked a leak. :( Your soup looks wonderful though and I think I'd enjoy a bowl of homemade soup on this rainy November day. xo Pam

  12. Your soup looks delicious. I'm half embarrassed to say that I've never had leek soup. So this is a must try! Thanks for the recipe! I'm new here and like your blog, great header with the moon!

  13. I love leeks and potato leek soup is a favorite of mine. Your soup looks delicious!! Yes, I have grown leeks! Here is a link to the post I did, after harvesting them:

  14. Your soup looks delicicous Mary! I never had leek soup before. It looks really creamy, which I like. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  15. Mary your soup recipe looks very delicious indeed. I am inspired to try it. Growing up I never knew what a leek was though I do recall reading about them in novels, especially novels by English writers. A decade ago or so I read "French Women Don't Get Fat" and that is where I was inspired to buy leeks and try them. Yum! She has a leek soup recipe in there for "cleansing" the system when you are beginning to change your eating habits to lose weight, if I am recalling correctly. Anyway, I tried it and later adjusted it to my own taste and it was very good. Leek and potato are wonderful together. And the leeks look so pretty when sliced up for the soup - all those little rounds with concentric circles in shades of white, cream, light green, green. Lovely.

  16. Oh, PS, I also meant to say - I know JUST how you feel about taking some scissors into the market. I feel the same way about the so-called broccoli crowns when they leave way too much stem on there and then charge you by weight for something that they are selling as crown only. I have often thought I wish I had a knife to slice off this extra bit of stem!

  17. I think we should start a scissor brigade!! I am ruthless about taking off brown bits and wilted bits of any veggie I buy. Why pay for something you cant eat?
    I did grow leeks some years ago. They like rich soil. Mine were rather small but I didn't fuss over them. With your long growing season you should be very successful.
    Onions are easy peasy to grow. Happy Thanksgiving!!


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