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 spring in a bowl!
This vegan potato leek soup is velvety yet bright, hearty but not heavy. I’ve been eating it every day for lunch this week, 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!
The second cookbook from 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.
In addition to more than 100 vibrant recipes (of which I have already made three, including another incredible dinner last night. ALL SO GOOD.), the book includes clever cooking tips ranging from how to use bits of vegetables you might otherwise discard (leek tops, for example), to how to freeze herbs, cook grains, and more.
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.
A Brief History of Potato Leek Soup
Whenever I’m exploring a new recipe, I love to learn about its roots, even for recipes as traditional as Potato Leek Soup.
Consensus seems to be that 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 Monday 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 of potato leek soup—the humble vegetables and soothing, creamy texture—but is a world apart from the heavy-cream-laden iteration.
Instead of relying on fat to achieve a thick, creamy texture, this Potato Leek Soup makes clever use of the properties of the ingredients themselves.
For those following special diets, this Potato Leek Soup is naturally vegan (and thus vegetarian), gluten free, dairy free, Paleo (if you don’t mind white potatoes in moderation), and Whole30 compliant.
Of course, if the only diet you are following is “I love yummy things that happen to be good for me,” this soup is perfect for you too!
Star Vegetables in Healthy Potato Leek Soup
In addition to the obvious, this Potato Leek Soup sneaks in a few surprising extras!
First, the obvious:
- Potatoes. If cream could be a vegetable, it would be a potato. Like in my favorite Asparagus Soup, potatoes give the soup richness without the need for milk or cream. (It’s similar to the idea of blending cauliflower into soup, a trick used in my Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup.)
Yukon golds potatoes are the potato of choice here. With their naturally buttery flavor and smooth texture, they give the soup incredible body, and this is coming from someone who loves her soups so thick, a spoon nearly stands up in them straight.
- Leeks. A relative of the onion, leeks are mild and delicate. 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 Potato Leek Soup.
Now, the unexpected:
- Artichokes. Surprising and SO fantastic in potato leek soup. I always have a few cans of artichokes on hand, and they are wonderful here.
- Carrots and Celery. A classic for soup base (often called mirepoix when combined with onions), carrots and celery give the Potato Leek Soup a depth of flavor you’d miss without them. I love the extra serving of veggies the carrots and celery add to the Potato Leek Soup too.
The Secret to a CREAMY Vegan Potato Leek Soup
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.
Bye-Bye Bland Soup
Now, Jack and Jeanine probably could have stopped there and we would have a fabulous dairy free Potato Leek Soup, but I am so glad the recipe carries on, because it is the final handful of ingredients that make it so memorable.
- 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. GENIUS. I never would have thought to put these into a soup, which has me rethinking just about every soup I’ve ever made.
- LOTS of Fresh Herbs. Dill and chives lift this soup to the stratosphere. Please do not skip them or be tempted to substitute dried. Fresh is worth it!
Serving Potato Leek Soup
- With its thick texture, this Potato Leek Soup is substantial enough to serve as a stand-alone vegetarian main, especially when combined with a hunk of crusty bread. (PSA: life is short; unless you are on a special diet, have bread with your soup.)
- As an appetizer for a special meal (Easter in a few weeks perhaps?).
- Potato Leek Soup and Salad. A simple green salad like this arugula salad is all you need.
- Potato Leek Soup and Sandwich. While this soup is vegan, if you don’t need it to be dairy free or vegetarian, this would also be quite delicious with grilled cheese or even my Whole30 chicken salad.
- For garnish, I was happy with an extra sprinkle of chives and dill. Carnivores could also top it with bacon, ham, or sausage, though I promise this soup is mighty satisfying without them.
- To drink. This Potato Leek 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?).
A Note on Freezing Potato Leek 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.)
Fortunately, Potato Leek Soup can last four days in the refrigerator, giving you more time to enjoy it. (Though it lasted all of 36 hours here!)
For happens-to-be-healthy, also-tastes-so-delicious vegetarian recipes like today’s Potato Leek Soup, don’t miss Love and Lemons Every Day! I’m so happy to be sharing this recipe from it with you.
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!
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
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 generous cup) — Calories: 260, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Carbohydrates: 49g, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 7g
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