Potato Leek Soup
This healthy Potato Leek Soup is exactly where we need to be right now: expertly walking the tightrope between rich, creamy comfort food and all things bright, fresh, and light.
When you taste a bite of this potato leek soup, first you’ll be struck by how rich and thick it is. If you’re partial to classic potato leek soup recipes from the likes of Julia Child and Ina Garten, its hugs-you-from-the-inside texture will immediately resonate with you.
Then, however, something will change.
Just when you were sure you were eating a bowl of no-nonsense creamy potato decadence—would this be too soon to mention that this particular potato leek soup recipe contains no cream and is actually vegan?—the briny, zippy, spring-fresh flavors come forward.
Dill. Capers. Chives. It’s the bright sunshine we need served in a bowl!
This vegan potato leek soup is velvety yet bright, hearty but not heavy. I love eating it for easy lunches, and each time I taste it, it surprises and delights me anew.
Ready for a healthy soup that’s so decadent-tasting you’ll pat yourself on the back twice, once for making something this yummy, then a second time because this potato leek soup is good for you too? Let’s do it!
Potato Leek Soup – A Brief History
Whenever I’m exploring a new recipe, I love to learn about its origin, even for recipes as traditional as potato leek soup.
Consensus seems to be that the origin of potato leek soup is originally from Wales, though versions of it are popular across Europe (Irish Potato leek soup is a classic), and for good reason.
It’s an inexpensive, delicious meal and makes use of the potato, a hearty crop grown all throughout the world. The primary ingredients are chicken broth, potatoes, leeks, and heavy cream (you’ll also find potato leek soups with milk).
In addition to Ireland, the UK, and Romania, it’s also popular in France (hence Julia Child), and when it’s served cold, it’s called vichyssoise.
Admittedly, I’ve never gotten into the cold version—though I did sneak several bites of this soup cold out of the refrigerator on Tuesday night. It’s so delicious, I couldn’t wait to take a bite!
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s make a healthy version that will put every potato leek soup you’ve had up until this point to shame and likely ruin you from them forever.
I’m not sorry in the least.
Potato Leek Soup, Made Better (and Better for You!)
Today’s recipe is a more modern version. It keeps what I argue are the best parts—the humble vegetables and soothing, creamy texture—but is a world apart from the heavy-cream-laden iteration.
The secret to a CREAMY potato leek soup is (are you ready for this?)…
Blending cashews into the soup gives it undeniable, craveable richness.
As in my Instant Pot Carrot Soup with Ginger, the cashews don’t taste like nuts once they are added; rather, they turn into a cashew cream that makes soup satisfying without weighing it down. (If you are concerned with the potato leek soup being fattening, it is not; a little goes a long way, and cashews contain healthy fats.)
Not only is this soup rich, creamy, and satisfying, the cashews almost make the soup taste cheesy (in a good way), despite the fact that it is made entirely without dairy.
At one point, I was spooning it luxuriously over a hunk of sourdough like it was a kind of cheesy artichoke potato dip. Y-U-M.
Instead of relying on fat to achieve a thick, creamy texture, this potato soup makes clever use of the properties of the ingredients themselves.
- Leeks. A relative of the onion, leeks are mild and delicate. What part of a leek is used in cooking? The white and light green parts are used for cooking, while the dark green tops are not edible but can be used if you’d like to make stock.
- LEEK COOKING TIP: Leeks contain a lot of dirt hidden in their layers that must be washed out. After slicing them, rinse them thoroughly and run them through a salad spinner or shake them out in a colander to make sure you don’t have any bits of dirt or sand spoiling your lovely soup.
- Celery + Carrots + Garlic. A classic for soup bases (often called mirepoix when combined with onions). These ingredients give the soup a depth of flavor you’d miss without them.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes. Yukon golds potatoes are the potato of choice here. With their naturally buttery flavor and smooth texture, they give the soup incredible richness (without cream or milk) and body, and this is coming from someone who loves her soups so thick, a spoon nearly stands up in them straight.
- Vegetable Broth. The liquid base that keeps the soup vegan. (If it being vegan isn’t a concern, you can use chicken broth.)
- Artichoke Hearts. Surprising and SO fantastic in potato leek soup. I always have a few cans of artichokes on hand, and they are wonderful here.
- Cashews. We’ve covered the importance of these. They make the soup deliciously creamy and rich.
- Dijon Mustard. A spoonful of Dijon cuts through the richness of the cashews and balances the soup. There’s a reason mustard and potatoes are often served together, and it’s ideal here.
- Capers. My first time adding these to a soup and it will not be my last! The brininess is a lovely foil to the creaminess of the potatoes. If you don’t care for capers, I’d suggest omitting them; if you are on the fence, please try it!
- Lemon Juice. For a touch of brightness and acidity.
- Fresh Dill + Chives. Dill and chives lift this soup to the stratosphere. Please do not skip them or be tempted to substitute dried. Fresh is worth it!
- Sauté the leeks, celery, and carrots in a large pot, stirring until vegetables soften.
- Add the garlic, potatoes, and the broth. Boil, then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the artichokes.
- Let cool slightly, then transfer about half to a blender, along with the cashews and remaining ingredients. Puree until smooth, then return the mixture to the pot and add the fresh herbs.
- Garnish with your desired toppings, and DIG IN!
Recipe Adaptations + Dietary Notes
- Bacon Potato Leek Soup. If you have some meat lovers in your house, they could top this soup with crumbled baked bacon, ham, or sausage, though I promise this soup is mighty satisfying without them.
- For those following special diets, this soup is naturally vegan (and thus vegetarian), gluten free, dairy free, Paleo (if you don’t mind white potatoes in moderation), and Whole30 compliant.
What Goes Well with Potato Leek Soup?
With its thick texture, this healthy potato leek soup is substantial enough to serve as a stand-alone vegetarian main.
- Bread. You can’t go wrong with a hunk of crusty bread or this Crock Pot Bread. (PSA: life is short; unless you are on a special diet, have bread with your soup.)
- Salad. A simple green salad like this Anytime Arugula Salad is all you need.
- Sandwich. This soup would be quite delicious with Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Herbed Goat Cheese and Garlic or even my Whole30 Chicken Salad.
- To Drink. This soup tastes lovely with a crisp, dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc. Sipping a glass made me feel like consistently warm weather is getting close (it is, isn’t it?).
How to Store and Reheat This Soup
- To Store. Place leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm soup in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat until hot. You can also reheat your soup in the microwave.
Can You Freeze Leek and Potato Soup?
While I am ALL ABOUT the freezer, this one is not the ideal candidate, for two reasons.
- The cashew base will become less smooth when the soup is frozen.
- Potatoes tend to become mealy when frozen. (For what it’s worth, I froze this Crockpot Potato Soup and didn’t mind the texture change, but it’s good to be aware.)
More Delicious Vegetarian Soup Recipes
- Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
- Crockpot Lentil Soup
- Cauliflower Chowder
- Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup
- Vegan Pumpkin Soup
- Instant Pot Carrot Soup with Ginger
- Asparagus Soup
- Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Ladle. The ideal way to transfer soups to bowls and storage containers.
- High-Powered Blender. Perfect for blending the soup ingredients. (This more economical blender option is great too.)
- Dutch Oven. My favorite vessel for making soups on the stovetop.
- Love and Lemons Every Day. This potato leek soup recipe comes from this wonderful cookbook, the second book written by the ridiculously talented Jeanine and Jack of the blog Love and Lemons. It puts vegetables at the center of the plate and proves how outrageously delicious they can (and should!) be.
You’ll find filling breakfasts and healthy desserts, and if you turn to page 91, you will find this vegan potato leek soup! Even if, like me, you aren’t a vegetarian or vegan, this is a worthy cookbook to add to your collection. I can’t wait to make more recipes from it.
And on a more personal note, flipping through this cookbook’s pages gave me particularly strong tingles because it was published by Avery, the publisher of my upcoming cookbook. I’m in awe that I’ll be in such talented company, and I can’t wait for you to have your copy! You can even pre-order your copy RIGHT NOW!
Potato Leek Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 leeks - white and light green parts, thinly sliced and rinsed (3 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots - (I scrubbed and left the peels on)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt - plus additional to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes - chopped (I scrubbed left the peels on)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts - drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice - divided
- 1/2–1 cup water
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill - plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives - plus extra for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 8 to 10 minutes, turning down the heat if they start to over-brown.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the potatoes and the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the artichokes.
- Let cool slightly, then transfer half of the soup to a blender, along with the cashews, mustard, capers, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Puree until smooth, and then pour the mixture back into the soup pot. Stir in the water as needed to reach your desired consistency. (I love a super thick soup, so I used closer to 1/2 cup.) Add the dill, chives, and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with more dill, chives, and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
- Leftover soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Avoid freezing (see blog post above for reasons why).
- Don't skip the fresh herbs! They make the soup taste incredibly fresh and are well worth it here
- Source: Love and Lemons Every Day
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