a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Jan, 2011

A soup recipe for beginners and experts alike: leek soup

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I don’t normally like to start a blog post with an insult, but I think I’m going to have to make an exception this time.

Mark has been under the weather lately, and he asked me to buy him some Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. “I don’t care about the sodium,” he said wearily, “I just want the soup.” And so I bought it.

While it was simmering on the stove I dipped my finger in the broth to check the temperature. I licked my finger, and you know what, it was kind of gross. It’s been a long time since I ate that kind of soup. My tastes have definitely changed. I just can’t to eat it anymore: (a) there was nothing chicken about this chicken soup (b) all I could taste was the salt. Ugh.


Anyway, I’m here to say that making soup isn’t that hard. We don’t need to rely on the canned stuff, no matter how busy we are. 

I had a bunch of leeks kicking around the house so I decided to make some soup. It’s actually really easy. Heck, if I can do it, you can do it. Here is the recipe I used:

Leeks R Easy Soup

You will need:

  • 1 tb unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • a bunch of leeks (3 or 4), sliced and thoroughly washed
  • 1 mediumish potato
  • 1 tetra pack chicken of vegetable stock (or about 900 ml if you’re using your own)
  • freshly black pepper (to taste)

First, slice off the leek beards. (I don’t know what they’re really called, but don’t they look like beards? Or hair?)


Next, wash the leeks. This is a very important step. Don’t be tempted to gloss over the cleaning of the leeks. If you hurry this along too much, you’ll have gritty soup. The best way to wash leeks is to slice them, separate the rings, and dump them into a big bowl of cold water. You will need a bigger bowl than this:


Swish them around. They need a bit of swishing action:

Washing said leeks

Here’s where little people can pitch in. They can do the swishing and separating. See, you can even make leek rings!

Leek rings!

The idea is to dislodge the sand and dirt that gets trapped between the rings. The dirt will sink to the bottom. When you’re done, don’t go and dump it all in the strainer because you’ll just get the sand on your leeks again. Skim the clean leeks off the top, and place them in a strainer and rinse under running water. Get it?

See all the dirt at the bottom? Yuck. THAT COULD HAVE BEEN IN YOUR SOUP.

There's dirt in them leeks!

Grab a large pot, put it on the burner on medium, and add the butter, toast crumbs and all:


… and the water:


… and when the butter is melted, add the leeks and give it all a stir. There might even be a surprise engagement:

Future wedding

The leeks will need to cook until softened but not brown, say about 12 minutes. Give it a stir every once in awhile.


Meanwhile, peel and chop the potato. Don’t fuss about the peeling. A bit of peel never killed anyone:


And when the leeks are soft, toss ’em in.

Add your stock. I used this kind, as well as a bit of other stock I had leftover in the fridge.

Chicken juice

Don’t add salt. The original recipe (from Joy of Cooking) says to season with salt, but before you do, take a moment to look at the amount of sodium that’s already in your prepackaged stock. See, there’s already salt in your soup. If you really need it you can always add it later, but I doubt you will.

Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. At that point, puree your soup with an immersion blender or in batches in the food processor (which is what I did.) Add water or extra stock to adjust the consistency (if you want).

That’s it! It’s ready to serve!

Leek soup!

Season with freshly ground pepper, or if it’s too hot for the kids to eat, cool it down with a splash of milk. Serve with thick slices of whole wheat bread.

Let me know if you try this recipe. I’d love to know how it turned out for you.

14 Responses to "A soup recipe for beginners and experts alike: leek soup"

1 | vanessa

January 19th, 2011 at 11:58 am


thank you- I’ve never heard of leek beards before – I can add that to the rabbit scut I learnt this week [ its more technical than a bob tail and would make a tastey dish sort of like jugged hare do you have that in Canada !?]

2 | Amy @ Muddy Boots

January 19th, 2011 at 12:15 pm


You have such cute bowls, Andrea!

Also, how about some cubed cheddar? Yum.

3 | Vanessa

January 19th, 2011 at 12:15 pm


Love the potato leek soup – my kids don’t like onions or the such, but they eat this. You can also add thawed frozen spinach.. and for an added treat, sprinkle with shredded cheese before serving :)

4 | Ross Brown

January 19th, 2011 at 12:45 pm


Did I see product placement? ;-)

This is one of my favourite soups. Perfect for a winter day like today!

5 | Mommy Marshall

January 19th, 2011 at 12:57 pm


Thank you for this recipe! I’ve always wanted to make leek soup – this one looks so easy. Like the idea of adding spinach and CHEESE!

PS: We like to cool our hot soup with an ice cube!

6 | Javamom

January 19th, 2011 at 1:25 pm


I have made this soup without the potatos but added maple syrup while I cooked the leeks in olive oil (kind of like caramelizing). And I use an organic beef broth, preferably low sodium. Tastes something like onion soup, but not really, because the leeks aren’t as potent as onions.

I agree with the Campbell’s soup. I can’t believe I actually used to eat that stuff (back in my University days…). Soup is so easy to make and freezes well!

7 | Lisa

January 19th, 2011 at 1:38 pm


The store-bought stock is so handy! Check the sodium count on that stock though. You can get “low sodium” versions that are around 95 mg instead of 500-900 mg.

If you have the time and freezer space, homemade stock tastes way better and is easy, no salt (add it to the soup, not the stock, so that you don’t get concentrated salt if/when you reduce the stock in a recipe). You posted a great recipe a while back.

Or frozen from a local butcher shop, like Saslov’s.

8 | Pam

January 19th, 2011 at 3:00 pm


Yum!! Looks awesome and you can hardly go wrong with such handy dandy instructions. Thanks for the great recipe idea. I’ll whip that up soon!

9 | Laurie

January 19th, 2011 at 5:17 pm


I make this soup but add chickpeas as well – adds some protein and fibre. Then I top it with shaved parmesan – yum!

10 | Jennifer

January 19th, 2011 at 6:02 pm


I’m with Mark on this one. When I’m sick all I want is Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup. I also crave the really awful, neon coloured no-name popsicles. But when I’m not sick homesoup is way better. I’ll try this one it looks yummy.

11 | Mark

January 20th, 2011 at 2:24 pm


For the record, I eat the Campbells can of brine mmmmayyybeee twice a year. It’s a comfort thing. When I’m sick I seem to crave hot salt broth.

12 | betsy mae

January 22nd, 2011 at 6:54 pm


I have the best tip for washing leeks and other gritty fruits and veggies like strawberries, asparagus, and cilantro, add a bit of salt to the water you wash them in and it will draw the salt right out! So easy and you will never have grit again.

And Andrea, you are a lovely wife to make your hubby soup when he’s sick regardless of what kind of soup it is! But I think campbells soup is disgusting too!

13 | Ginger

February 2nd, 2011 at 11:44 am


So I bought leaks over a week ago and never had a chance to make the soup. But we are on our second “ice day”…since all we didn’t get snow…only ice…and I am home today.

The soup is on the stove now! After the boys are down for nap I am going to enjoy a lovely bowl! Just what I need on this cold Texas day. And I do mean cold! It is -10 degrees C here! It is NEVER that cold here!

14 | andrea

March 21st, 2011 at 12:05 pm


Thanks for your comments everyone! Happy soup eating!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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