The combination of the leeks, potatoes and kale is magical. The synergy of all these vegetables creates the soup’s unique flavor. The pungent leeks pair nicely with the neutral potatoes and the bitter kale balances out the soup. It can be served with or without sausages. This simple tasty soup quickly became a family favorite and its recipe stayed in our recipe box.
Leeks (allium porrum) have been used for thousands of years but have been kind of forgotten in the United States. They belong to the family of the allium vegetables like onions and garlic and are considered to be very good for health. They are milder but have a unique flavor. Leeks have cardiovascular protecting properties, are antiviral and bacterial and help combat the dangerous free radicals. Also, they help the body against cancer and chronic diseases. Not to mention, they are a significant source of vitamins A, B and K, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium and thiamin. In natural medicine, they are also used for lung problems. The leeks are available between the early fall and late winter.
The leeks are paired with potatoes (solarium tuberasum). The healthy potatoes are native to the Andes in South America and help the digestion, lubricate the intestines and nourish the kidneys. Furthermore, potatoes neutralize acids in the body thereby helping against so many degenerative diseases. Also, they give cardiovascular protection, improve bone health and protect against cancer. If these were not enough, they also contain potassium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
Out of all these vegetables, kale (Brassica oleracea) gives the most interesting flavor to the soup. It is a unique hardy cold-weather green that grows from the fall until the early spring. It gets sweeter with a touch of frost. It is an immensely valuable vegetable in the fall and the winter especially because there isn’t much else growing. It is more warming with a slight bitter pungent flavor and benefits the stomach and the lungs. It also contains calcium, iron, and vitamin A and has a very high chlorophyll content.
Serves 4 people
- 8 medium sized Russet or Yukon potatoes (about 1.5-2 pounds)
- 3 medium sized leeks, peeled and sliced
- butter or home-made ghee (I prefer ghee because it doesn’t burn easily like butter).
- 2 large slices of bacon or to taste (optional)
- stock (vegetable or chicken)
- 1 Italian sausage (optional)
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
- 1-3 thyme sprins
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1/2-1 cup of cream
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- crushed hot red pepper flakes to taste
- Parmesan cheese
- Wash and slice up leeks. Slice leeks thin with a sharp knife. Use more the white part (cook the greenish part in the stock or discard). Put the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water for 1/2 hour. This will get all the dirt out of the leeks. Clean well. Strain the liquid using a colander or pat dry.
- If you decide to keep the peel on the potatoes, clean and soak potatoes in some cold water for 1/2 hour. Scrub off any dirt. If you decide to peel potatoes, you can skip this step. Slice the potatoes thin.
- Sauté leek slices in some butter or ghee for 5-10 minutes or until you can smell the aroma of the leeks. Add 1 tsp of paprika and fennel seeds to activate for 1 minute and stir. Add 1/4 tsp cold water, stir.
- Fry up some sliced bacon if you decide to use it.
- Add potatoes and bacon to the leeks. Pour in the stock enough to barely cover the vegetables. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Start heating the soup carefully until it starts bubbling but not boiling. Quickly, turn the heat down and slowly cook for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile cook the sausage for 15 minutes in a little oil. Add to the soup at the end.
- Clean and take stems off the kale. Cut the leaves up into bite sizes.
- When soup is done, add the kale. It doesn’t need to cook.
- Add cream, salt, black pepper, hot red pepper flakes. Don’t cook anymore.
- Serve with a little Parmesan cheese.
- Never boil the soup. Turn soup down right when it starts bubbling but before it starts to boil and cook slowly for an hour.
- Add enough liquid to barely cover the vegetables. A few vegetables can even be ‘peaking’ out. Once the soup is done, you can add more liquids.
- These are my personal discoveries. I keep getting excellent results every time I cook the soup or don’t get if I don’t follow these suggestions.
- I can’t decide which potato I like more. The Russet is softer and blends in more, supposedly preferred for soups vs the Yucon that holds its shape better but is equally tasty.
Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
Recipe, photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.