More culinary inspiration from Mark Taylor, Head Chef at Karma St. Martin’s resort.
I have so much respect for leeks – they are extremely versatile and form the base of one of my all-time favourite dishes, ‘Leek and Potato Soup’! Leeks are a staple veggie in kitchens across Europe and with good reason. Leeks are part of the allium family and in good company (alliums also include onions, garlic, shallots, scallions and chives). They are often used in vegetable and fish stocks. The name ‘leek’ actually originates from the Olde English word “leac” from which the English word for garlic also derives.
Leek and Potato Soup
Important tip: this is a soup, so when preparing the vegetables try and cut them all to the same size. This allows all the base ingredients to cook at the same pace.
1, Start with the nage, this is an aromatic stock base which we use for the majority of soups, risottos and any vegetable specials. If using normal vegetable stock please start at step 2.
Begin by peeling and roughly chopping the onion, carrot, leek, garlic, celery, rosemary and thyme, add them to a medium sized pan and fill to about ⅔ full with water.
Bring to the boil – and remove from the heat.
Add the white wine and soft herbs and cover the pan with cling film to allow the stock to infuse. Allow to chill on the side, and then move to the fridge. Do not strain, allow the stock to infuse overnight – 24 hours maximum (any longer can result in a cloudy stock).
Strain through a fine mesh strainer and it’s ready to use.
Top Tip – any excess stock, tip into ice cube trays and freeze for a later date.
- Take a medium sized pan, oil lightly and bring to a low heat.
- Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme and sweat until the onions start to soften but do not take on any colour.
- Add the leeks and cook until slightly soft.
- Add the Nage / stock to just cover the vegetables and bring to the boil.
- While the pan is coming to the boil, start peeling the potatoes and slice them as thinly as possible (a mandolin is a great tool for this but be careful – they are extremely sharp). Place the sliced potatoes in a pot and run cold water over them until the water runs clear. This helps to remove excess starch and gives a finer mouth feel to the soup itself.
- When the soup comes to a boil, add the potatoes and cook through until soft. Remove from the heat and set up the liquidiser.
- Start blending the soup, and meanwhile set up a fine sieve in a bowl over another bowl containing ice. Then add the spinach to the soup mix and blend until smooth, quickly remove from the blender and pass through the sieve into the bowl over ice. Allow the soup to cool over the ice. Cold water will also do, the soup just won’t cool as quickly.
- Gently bring back to temperature when time to serve. Adding a little chive creme fraiche on top wouldn’t go amiss.
The cooling step may sound excessive but is the key to a bright, vibrant colour. This technique helps stop the cooking process as fast as possible and keeps the soup nice and green. I use this technique a lot when making flavoured oils and purées to keep the colours lovely and bright.