If you’ve hung around here at Salt & Wind for a bit, then you’ve likely read that my love for France directly stems from my father having married my French stepmother. My introduction into the world of French food was secured thanks to two recipes that my stepmother, Michele, cooked on repeat: Potato Leek Soup and Cheese Soufflé. And, really, what’s not to like?
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
The combination of buttery leeks, herbs, and a dash of cream means that Potato Leek soup is like the liquid version of a classic Baked Potato while airy clouds of egg and cheese are indisputably pure culinary magic.
When I moved to France for culinary school, I had a lot to learn in the kitchen but knew I could at the very least cook Michele’s classic recipes — Potato Leek Soup, Cheese Souffle, Leg Of Lamb, a Vinegar-y Salad, and an incredible Gratin — with the best of them. This is a recipe I’ve been cooking for decades and it’s a go-to in my household.
Here are the ingredients to make this potato leek soup:
- Yukon Gold potatoes
- Unsalted butter
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Bay Leaf
- Fresh Thyme
- Fresh parsley
- Low-sodium chicken or vegetable brroth
- Heavy cream
How To Make This Recipe
How to make this potato leek soup
- Peel The Potatoes: Peel the potatoes and keep in water until ready to use.
- Saute The Vegetables: Saute the leeks, shallots, and garlic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Simmer The Potatoes: Add the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and broth and simmer until the potatoes are falling apart.
- Puree The Soup: Using an immersion blender or blender, puree the soup until smooth.
- Serve The Soup: Top the soup with any garnishes and serve.
Tips To Make The Best Potato Leek Soup
Classic French cooking has a reputation for being fussy and complicated but that’s really only the case for high-end dining.
The more humble, homey recipes like this soup prove that a few ingredients and a little effort can result in a dish that makes you feel like you’re dining while floating down the Rhone, if only in your imagination.
There are some key pointers I’ve learned through the years that separate a good Potato Leek Soup from an exceptional one. Here are the top tips:
Use Both Shallots And Leeks:
The stars of this dish are leeks — a relative of the humble onion — and potatoes so you could make this recipe with 100% leeks. But after making this recipe for years I’ve found that combining the leeks with another onion family ingredient such as shallots (or white or yellow onions when in a pinch) brings depth to the final soup.
Opt For Yukon Gold Potatoes:
Leave it to the country that created potato gratin and fries to have numerous varieties of potatoes. We can’t often find French potatoes here in the United States so the variety we recommend you use for soups is Yukon Golds — they have creamy flesh and delicate skin that adds a nice texture to the final soup.
Peeled Versus Unpeeled Potatoes:
Traditionalists would have you peel the potatoes for a smoother texture and a more uniform color (ie no flecks of potato skin). Truth be told, I love the texture the skin of more delicate potatoes (like Yukon Gold) adds to this soup so I recommend you leave them unpeeled.
Add The Herbs You Have:
The herbs you add to this soup while it simmers don’t need to be many but they will add a lot of flavor so don’t forget them. At the very minimum add a bay leaf, and, if you have them on hand, a few sprigs of fresh thyme or marjoram, and a handful of parsley (even just the stems if that’s all you have) to add subtle flavor.
Make It More Or Less Bold With Stock:
You could make this potato leek soup with 100% water but I prefer to add broth for more flavor. To keep it plant based, add vegetable broth or water. If you are a carnivore, opt for chicken broth, or for a more intense flavor, even veal or beef broth.
Use The Potato Liquid As A Thickener:
Make sure you DO NOT THROW OUT THE POTATO SOAKING WATER! This water is loaded with potato starch which will add a thickness to the soup that helps bring it together. It is not essential you do this but I really think it helps make the soup more cohesive!
Finish With Nutmeg And Cream:
To make this soup healthier, you could use oil or vegan butter instead of standard butter and you could skip the cream. However, this little bit of dairy really ups the flavor of the final dish. Other ways to bring the flavor up? Add a few cranks of black pepper, some freshly snipped chives or even parsley, or some freshly grated nutmeg just before serving!
Bottom line is that not all classic French food is complicated. This classic Potato Leek soup is simply buttery sautéed vegetables that get pureed together with herbs and a dash of cream for one of the easiest and most satisfying soups ever!
Other Soup Recipes To Try
Here are a few of our other favorite soups to try:
Classic Potato Leek Soup Recipe
For The Potato Leek Soup:
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potato (or substitute Red Bliss potatoes or new potatoes)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 medium leeks cleaned and trimmed then thinly sliced into quarter moon pieces
- 4 medium shallots peeled and roots trimmed and discarded then minced
- 2 medium garlic cloves thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium bay leaf
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 handful fresh Italian parsley with tender stems, (optional)
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or beef broth
- Drizzle heavy cream or crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)
- Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)
- Snipped fresh chives for garnish (optional)
- Handful croutons for garnish (optional)
- Prepare The Potatoes: Cut the potatoes into a medium dice (about 1/2 inch cubes) then place in a nonreactive (metal or glass) mixing bowl and add enough water that the potatoes are just covered. Set aside until ready to use (you can cut the potatoes up to 24 hours in advance – keep stored in the water and refrigerated until ready to use).
- Sautet The Leeks: Place the butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot and melt it over medium heat. Add the leeks, shallots, and garlic (if using), season generously with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks and shallots are soft and tender but don't let them get browned (lower the heat as needed to prevent browning).
- Add The Potatoes And Simmer: Remove the potatoes from their soaking water and reserve the soaking water (you'll use it later!). Add the diced potatoes to the pot along with the bay leaf, thyme, parsley (if using), and broth. You'll want to remove the herbs before blending so you can tie them all together with kitchen string (if you have it) to make it easier on yourself. Otherwise, just fish them out with the help of some tongs!Also, FYI, the vegetables should just barely be covered by the liquid. As needed add a touch more broth or water until the vegetables are just covered. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are so tender that they fall apart, about 25 to 35 minutes.
- Puree The Potato Leek Soup: Discard the bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and parsley stems. Add 2 cups of the reserved potato soaking water including any potato starch that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl as the potatoes soaked (if you don't have 2 cups of potato liquid add water to make up the difference). Then, using an immersion blender blend the soup until all the vegetables are broken down and the texture is consistent. You can blend it as much or little as you'd like at this point. Either just blend it until all the ingredients are combined but it is still quite textured (almost like a chowder) or keep blending it until it's more similar to a pureed soup.
- Finish The Potato Leek Soup: Taste the soup, stir in a large pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper and simmer the soup for 5 to 10 minutes more until everything has come together.
- Serve The Potato Leek Soup: You can serve the soup simply ladled in bowls with a crank of freshly ground black pepper. We like to add some croutons for crunch, some freshly snipped chives to emphasize the onion flavor, and a drizzle of cream to add a dash of richness. Also, if you like nutmeg, a little grate of it on the soup before serving is incredible!