Leeks may look like scallions grown out of control, but they can add subtle flavor to many dishes, from soup to sides.
Leeks are part of the onion and garlic family and are a good source of nutrients, including antioxidants. But unlike their cousins, leeks aren't usually eaten raw.
The first step in any leek recipe is to properly clean them. Cut off and discard the very dark green tops or place them in your compost pile. Thinly slice the leeks and place them in a large bowl of cold water. Toss the slices thoroughly to loosen any dirt or sand that might be caught between the layers and then drain them. Dry the leeks before proceeding with this or any recipe, unless noted otherwise.
Here's how to make a rich leek and potato soup that's perfect hot or cold.
Leek and Potato Potage
Place the oil in a large stockpot and warm over medium heat. Add the leeks, dried herbs and salt. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often until the leeks soften and turn brown. Add the potatoes and the broth. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are fork-tender. Briefly cool to make handling easier. Then puree in batches to make a thick soup. Note that you may not need all the broth. However, if it's too thick, you can thin the puree with a small amount of broth or water. Add pepper to taste. Allow to chill in the fridge if serving cold in warmer months. Garnish with chives, if desired, before serving.
Yield: 4 servings.
Find more about leeks at the George Mateljan Foundation.