The humble Potato Leek Soup elevated with a sprinkling of holiday cheer with red pepper flakes & green herbs and an added Indian touch with Cumin-scented Garlic Ghee drizzled on top. Its hearty and comforting, perfect to sip for lunch on a cold wintery day or for dinner on a grey, chilly night.
More than half of January 2023 has already passed, and I can’t believe I’m still experiencing a pretty strong holiday hangover! This past holiday season was one of the best we’ve had in a while. We had so much fun that before we knew it, we were back home! Returning home and getting back into our routine, especially when it’s been dark, grey, and rainy for weeks on end, hasn’t been easy. So, I decided to sprinkle a little holiday cheer with some green herbs and red chili flakes over our creamy bowls of soup to brighten up our moods on a cold, rainy night, and it certainly did the trick! It turned out to be a great conversation starter, allowing us to reminisce about the wonderful time we had celebrating Christmas in Europe.
The soup season in my house typically starts in the fall and continues through winter and into early spring. When it’s chilly outside, I definitely crave a good creamy soup, especially one that uses a few simple ingredients and comes together quickly. With some Yukon Gold baby potatoes in my pantry and leeks I had picked up during a recent grocery run, I whipped up a simple and hearty potato and leek soup. It boasts a creamy, velvety smooth texture and a mild, buttery flavor that’s perfect and incredibly comforting for a cold winter night.
Potato – A Family Favorite Ingredient
Potatoes are an all-time favorite in my family, and any dish I make with them as the star ingredient is always a winner on the dinner table. My family also adores all kinds of soup; they prefer a warm, comforting bowl of soup over a cold, hearty salad any day. So, a dish that combines both potatoes and soup is sure to please both my husband andmy daughter!
The Classic Potato & Leek Soup Recipe
When it comes to potato and leek soup, you’ll find hundreds of recipes out there. Some are chunky, some silky smooth, and some fall in between when it comes to texture. Regardless, to make this soup, you’ll want to use Yukon Gold or baking potatoes (such as Russet or Idaho). Red-skinned potatoes tend to be waxy and simply don’t work well in this recipe. As for the leeks, it’s best to use them in the soup recipe, but if you absolutely can’t find them, then green onions, spring onions, shallots, or sweet white onions can be used as alternatives.
My Potato & Leek Soup Recipe
While the pairing of potatoes and leeks is excellent and provides the soup with plenty of flavor, I believe there’s always an opportunity for elevation. Garlic is that one incredible ingredient that works exceptionally well in enhancing any recipe, and it does the same for this soup. Additionally, I use cumin seeds to season the oil before adding the rest of the ingredients, which adds a delightful warmth to the overall flavor of the soup. Lastly, although the soup gets enough creaminess from pureeing the potatoes, I like to make it a bit more luxurious by stirring in some heavy cream and drizzling some on top as well.
Adding an Indian Touch to the Potato & Leek Soup
I’m not entirely sure of the exact origin of this soup; I’ve read that it’s originally from Wales (part of Great Britain), but I’ve also come across classic French recipes for making it. Honestly, I’m not certain which version I make, but my recipe is pretty straightforward. I simply sauté leeks in oil along with cumin seeds and chopped garlic, then stir in the potatoes and pour in chicken stock for a richer taste. When the potatoes are cooked, I puree the soup to a silky smooth texture using an immersion blender. And as I often do, I add an Indian touch, by finishing off with some cumin-scented ghee, much like the Indian tadka (ghee or oil scented with a bunch of spices) spooned on top of a dal!
The Ghee Tadka for Potato & Leek Soup
The cumin-scented ghee elevates the humble potato and leek soup to a whole new level. The cumin seeds provide a delightful crunch to the otherwise soft and smooth texture of the soup. To enhance the umami and emphasize the garlic flavor in the soup, I use garlic ghee. Alternatively, you can use plain ghee and add some chopped garlic along with cumin seeds to infuse the ghee for this recipe. To finish it off, I also like to add a little kick to the deliciously mellow flavor of the soup by sprinkling some red chili flakes, along with freshly chopped herbs. I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.
Start by prepping the leeks. Trim the ends of the leeks and cut in half and further into quarters along the length. At this point, fan the leaves and rinse the leeks well, as they tend to trap a lot of sand and debris. Chop the cleaned leeks into ½-inch pieces.
Heat oil in a soup pot or a saucepan with lid over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds.
Add in the sliced leeks and sprinkle some salt to help them soften and. Give it a quick stir and let them sweat for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add in the chopped garlic and give it a quick stir. Within 30 seconds to 1 minute, add in the diced potatoes and mix well to combine.
Pour in the stock, season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Give it a good stir and cover with the lid. Cook covered over medium heat for 12-15 minutes till the potatoes are cooked to a tender consistency. You can check by piercing the potatoes with a paring knife or a fork.
Take the pot off the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to a desired texture (completely smooth or slightly chunky).
Adjust seasonings and reheat the soup, if needed.
In the meantime, prepare the scented ghee by melting the ghee in a small frying pan or skillet. Add the cumin seeds and continue heating till the seeds sizzle in the hot ghee. Give the pan a quick swirl and take it off the heat.
To serve, spoon the warm soup into bowls. Drizzle with some heavy cream. Garnish with chives and chopped cilantro or parsley. Gently drizzle the Cumin-scented Ghee using a small spoon on top. Sprinkle some red chili flakes for heat, if you want.
Any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months in an air-tight, freezer-friendly glass container or in plastic freezer bags. Make sure to cool the soup completely before storing in the freezer.
If you can’t find leeks, you can substitute with about 1 cup of chopped green onions, spring onions, shallots or sweet white onions.
Use the right Potato
Make sure to use Yukon Gold or baking potatoes (such as Russet or Idaho). Red-skinned potatoes tend to be waxy and simply don’t work well in this recipe.
Peel or Not?
You don’t need to peel Yukon Gold potatoes for making the soup but if you use baking Russet or Idaho potatoes, you’ll want to peel the skins off.
If you love bacon, you can skip the ghee and cumin seeds both in the soup and for the topping. Start making the soup by cooking diced bacon (3-4 slices) over medium heat in the pot till it gets crispy. Reserve some, then add the leeks and follow the recipe as is.
Add ¼ tsp of turmeric to the ghee along with cumin seeds for a beautiful golden color for the topping.
Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.